Police gun down suspect in killing of Swedish football fans in Brussels

Swedish football fans react following the attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels. (Photo/AFP)

Police in Belgium have shot dead a suspected extremist accused of killing two Swedish football fans in a brazen shooting on a Brussels street before disappearing into the night.

Hours after a manhunt began in the Belgian capital, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden told broadcaster VRT on Tuesday: “We have the good news that we found the individual.”

She said that the weapon believed to have been used in the shooting was recovered.

The federal prosecutor’s office was more cautious, saying in a text message to The Associated Press: “There are strong presumptions but no certainties” that the man was the shooter.

He was shot by police in the Schaerbeek neighbourhood where the rampage had taken place.

Amateur videos posted on social media of Monday’s attack showed a man wearing an orange fluorescent vest pulling up on a scooter, take out a large weapon and open fire on passersby before chasing them into a building to gun them down.

“Last night, three people left for what was supposed to be a wonderful soccer party. Two of them lost their lives in a brutal terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said at a news conference just before dawn. “Their lives were cut short in full flight, cut down by extreme brutality.”

De Croo said his thoughts were with the victims’ families and that he had sent his condolences to the Swedish prime minister.

Terror alerts on the highest level

Security has been beefed up in the capital, particularly around places linked to the Swedish community in the city.

“The attack that was launched yesterday was committed with total cowardice,” De Croo said.

Not far from the scene of the shooting, the Belgium-Sweden football match in the Belgian national stadium was suspended at halftime and the 35,000 fans held inside as a precaution while the attacker was at large.

Prosecutor Eric Van Duyse said “security measures were urgently taken to protect the Swedish supporters” in the stadium.

More than two hours after the game was suspended, a message flashed on the big stadium screen saying, “Fans, you can leave the stadium calmly.”

Stand after stand emptied onto streets filled with police as the search for the attacker continued.

“Frustrated, confused, scared. I think everyone was quite scared,” said Caroline Lochs, a fan from Antwerp.

Sweden raised its terror alert to the second-highest level in August after a series of public Quran burnings by an Iraqi refugee living in Sweden resulted in threats.

Belgian prosecutors said overnight that nothing suggested the attack was linked to the latest fighting between Israel and Palestinian Hamas.


Source: TRT