Belgian police officers keep watch near the scene of a shooting in Brussels, Belgium, 16 October 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

Two dead after shooting in central Brussels

Brussels, Oct. 16 (EFE) – The Belgian government activated a crisis center on Monday night after at least two people were killed in central Brussels by an armed individual who fled and apparently acted for terrorist purposes.

The shooting occurred around 7:30 pm on a central street in Brussels when the individual began shooting with a high-caliber weapon, killing at least two people of Swedish nationality, according to a police source.

Following the attack, police stepped up security around the King Baudouin stadium, which will host the Euro 2024 qualifying match between the Belgian and Swedish national teams on Monday night.

Brussels (Belgium), 16/10/2023.- Belgian police and forensics officers work behing a cordon at the scene of a shooting in Brussels, Belgium, 16 October 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

The spokesman for the national crisis center, Antoine Iseux, said that the coordinating body for threat analysis (Ocam) had raised the Brussels-Capital region to level 4 (the highest) and the rest of Belgium to level 3.

The federal prosecutor’s office has reopened the investigation and confirmed the terrorist nature of the attack, which took place at around 7:30 pm local time at the intersection of Sainctelette square and the Ninth Line and Ypres boulevards.

In a video recorded by a witness, circulating on the Internet and reproduced by the sports newspaper DH, the man can be seen arriving alone on a small motorcycle, throwing it to the ground and beginning to shoot rapidly in the street with a large caliber weapon.

The assailant, wearing a fluorescent orange jacket and a white helmet, first shot at the two victims, who were in a taxi and wearing Swedish national team shirts.

After that, the attacker followed and shot several people trying to seek refuge in the building of the Flemish residential fund, shooting one of them again when they were already on the ground.

He then left the building and fled into the street on his motorcycle.

Forensic officers work at the scene of a shooting in Brussels, Belgium, 16 October 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

According to media reports, the attacker’s jacket was similar to that worn by municipal cleaners in Brussels.

Several witnesses said the man shouted “Allahu akbar” as he shot his victims.

The alleged attacker, Slayem Slouma, later posted a video on social media in which he claimed to belong to the Islamic State and boasted of having executed “infidels.

In his speech, he said he had shot two people to “avenge Muslims and that we live and die for our religion”.

Emergency services and police were mobilized to try to find the assailant.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and the interior and justice ministers went to the National Crisis Center Monday night to monitor the situation, where the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, is also present.

“The heart of Europe has been struck by violence. “My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the deadly attack in the center of Brussels,” wrote the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, in his official account on X.

My support to the Belgian authorities and security services who are monitoring the situation,” he added,

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said on X: “Tonight my thoughts are with the families of the two victims of the despicable attack in Brussels.”

“I offer my heartfelt support to the Belgian police to apprehend the suspect quickly. Together, we stand united against terror,” she added. EFE