Brussels (Belgium), 17/10/2023.- Belgian police officers secure the area where the gunman is neutralised in Brussels, Belgium, 17 October 2023. A man, suspected of killing two Swedish football supporters on 16 October, was shot by the Police during an operation and has died, Belgian Police said. Following the incident, the Brussels Capital Region has increased its terror threat to level 4, the highest, the National Crisis Center announced. (Bélgica, Suecia, Bruselas) EFE/EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS

Belgium police shoot dead man who killed 2 Swedes, injured 3rd

Brussels, Oct 17 (EFE).- Police in Belgium on Tuesday shot dead a man suspected of killing two Swedish citizens and injuring a third in Brussels the previous evening, Belgian federal prosecutors said.

Witnesses called police after spotting the suspect at a cafe in the Schaerbeek district of the Belgian capital on Tuesday morning, prosecutors said in a statement, adding that the alleged perpetrator died of gunshot wounds sustained during his arrest.

Belgium’s Crisis Center confirmed on Tuesday morning that “the perpetrator of last night’s shooting was identified and has passed away.”

Belgian police officers with dogs secure the area where the gunman is neutralised in Brussels, Belgium, 17 October 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS

The suspect was Abdesalem L., a Tunisian national who was in Belgium illegally, prime minister Alexander De Croo told a press conference on Tuesday.

“This terrorist attack shakes the foundations of our peaceful societies,” De Croo said.

The prime minister added that he had sent his “condolences to the people of Sweden”.

“Together we will fight terrorism with even greater determination,” De Croo said.

Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said that Monday’s attack that killed two Swedish national soccer team supporters was “directed” against Sweden.

(L-R) Belgium’s Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne and Federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw attend a press conference following a shooting in Brussels, Belgium 17 October 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

“Everything indicates that this is a terrorist attack aimed at Sweden and Swedish citizens simply because they are Swedish,” Kristersson told a press conference in Stockholm, according to local media.

He also confirmed that the suspect had “acted alone”.

The assailant posted a video online shortly after allegedly committing the attack, in which he said he had killed three people “in the name of God.”

While the assailant did not explain why he had targeted Swedish nationals, a series of Quran burnings this year in Sweden sparked international protests and outrage, particularly in the Muslim world.

Belgian federal prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw said the investigation into the attack has been assigned to a magistrate specializing in terrorism cases.

Belgium’s interior minister Annelies Verlinden said the alleged perpetrator was not on the list of suspected terrorists, but was known to police for criminal offenses in Tunisia.

“The attack was not expected,” Verlinded told local radio.

According to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the alleged attacker, who was traveling on a scooter, followed Swedish soccer supporters who were traveling in a taxi.

He then opened fire on them as they were getting out of the vehicle, at the intersection of Place Sainctelette and Boulevard du Neuvieme de Ligne.

Sweden’s national team were playing a Euro 2024 qualification match against Belgium at the King Baudouin stadium in the north of Brussels.

The match was abandoned at half time after news of the shooting emerged, and the 35,000 spectators in attendance were evacuated amid heavy security measures.

The stadium was not cleared until 4am Tuesday morning.

The terror alert for Brussels has been raised to 4, the highest level, implying the threat is “very serious and imminent.”

The last time level 4 threat was activated was in the immediate aftermath of the suicide bombing attacks on the metro and airport in Brussels on Mar. 22, 2016, which killed 32 people. EFE