Police shoot dead suspected gunman accused of killing 2 Swedes in Brussels

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A gunman suspected of killing two Swedish nationals in a terrorist attack in Brussels has died after being shot by police, bringing an end to an overnight manhunt.

The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office confirmed Tuesday that the suspect, whose identity is yet to be confirmed, has been killed.

Public broadcaster RTBF reported earlier that the suspect was killed during a police operation Tuesday morning in the Cage aux Ours district in the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek, northeast of of the capital. He was carrying a weapon, RTBF reported.

The suspected gunman’s deadly attack Monday night came as Belgium hosted Sweden in a Euro 2024 qualifier soccer game at the King Baudouin Stadium 3 miles (5 kilometers) from downtown Brussels, forcing the match to be abandoned at half-time.

The stadium was later evacuated and fans were told to return home immediately, according to the National Crisis Center.

In a video posted on social media, a man identifying himself as the gunman claimed “to be inspired by the Islamic State,” a spokesperson for Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office said, adding “the Swedish nationality of the victims was mentioned as a probable motivation for the act.”

“At this stage, there are no indications of a potential link with the Israeli-Palestinian situation. On the basis of both the facts and the claim, security measures have been taken as a matter of urgency to protect Swedish fans as much as possible,” spokesperson Eric Van Duyse said during a news conference.

The deadly shooting follows a spate of Quran-burning protests in Sweden and Denmark that has caused angry demonstrations in Muslim-majority countries, heightened security fears and left both Scandinavian nations questioning whether they need to review their liberal laws on freedom of speech.

A witness to the attack told Reuters that he heard a first gun shot, saw a couple running away and saw a white car accelerate past.

“That’s when I saw the assailant enter the building, who shot twice towards the man,” he said. “The man fell to the ground. I saw him fall because I was just nearby, I could see everything that was happening inside. I stayed there. I was frozen, I couldn’t move. I’m still shivering because of what happened. And then the man came back and shot another bullet, and he came out.”

Belgian authorities condemned the attack.

“Horrified by the terrorist attack that claimed two victims in the heart of Brussels,” Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. “All necessary means must be mobilized to combat radicalism. Our thoughts go out to the victims, their families, and our police forces.”

Police were on the streets of Brussels to ensure safety, the city’s mayor Philippe Close posted on X.

In a post Tuesday on X, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo offered his “deepest condolences to the relatives of this cowardly attack.”

After the suspected gunman was killed, the Belgian prime minister said on X that “our priority goes to the families of the victims to make sure they get the appropriate support.”

“We are now making sure the Swedish soccer fans can travel back home safely,” he added.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson expressed his appreciation for the “international solidarity for Sweden” in a post on X on Tuesday.

He added: “While we mourn the victims, my government is working closely with relevant agencies and international partners. Together we stand united against terrorism.”

The country’s Crisis Center also posted to X asking people not to share images or videos of the incident “out of respect” for the victims.

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