Swedish nationality ‘likely motive’ in fatal shooting of football fans in Brussels
Two football fans He was shot dead in Brussels on Monday evening in a suspected Islamist terror attack The Belgian prosecutor said they may have been targeted because they were Swedish.
Brussels police are hunting a suspected gunman who killed two Swedish fans near where Belgium was hosting Sweden in a Euro 2024 qualifying match on Monday night.
The match was canceled at halftime and police detained about 35,000 fans in the stadium for several hours before evacuating them.
In August, Sweden raised its terrorism alert to the second highest level, warning of increased threats against Swedish interests abroad, after the burning of the Qur’an and other acts in Sweden against the holiest verses of Islam angered Muslims and sparked threats from jihadists.
The suspected gunman, who called himself Abdul Salam Al Kilani, claimed in a video on social media that he was a mujahid for the sake of God.
The federal prosecutor said that the third victim, who was injured but was not in serious condition, was a taxi driver. The Public Prosecutor called on Brussels residents to remain in their homes until the threat ends.
01:48 AM GMT
Full story: Gunman is on the loose and Brussels is on high alert
We have ended our live coverage of the attack in Brussels.
For the full story and latest updates, read Joe Barnes’ report from Brussels.
01:26 AM GMT
“I froze and couldn’t move.”
In a video posted online by Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, the shooter is seen carrying an automatic weapon over his shoulder and fleeing on a motorcycle.
Four gunshots can be heard in the video.
A witness who spoke to LN24 described his shock during the incident.
“I stood there frozen, not moving. I was shocked by what happened, and even now I am still in shock. A man came and pushed me and told me to stop running if I wanted to stay alive,” said the witness, who gave his name as Suleiman.
11:55 PM GMT
Schools in Brussels may be closed in the morning
The Netherlands tightened controls on its borders with Belgium in the wake of the terrorist attack.
Police officers are carrying out searches in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels, where the attacker is said to have been living. Local media reported that the alleged terrorist, of Tunisian origin, was living in Belgium illegally.
Officials are meeting to decide whether to allow schools and offices in the Belgian capital to open in the morning if the alleged terrorist is still at large.
The National Crisis Center had previously raised the warning level in Brussels to level four, the highest level, and recommended against non-essential travel around the capital.
11:23 PM GMT
The Swedish Prime Minister calls on the Swedes to be careful
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in a statement that his government asks Swedes in Belgium to be vigilant and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.
11:08 PM GMT
The evacuation begins at the stadium
Fans are now being evacuated from King Baudouin Stadium, about five hours after the initial attack.
Swedish fans are the last to leave the stadium, escorted by police.
10:57 PM GMT
The official says Swedish nationality may have been the motive behind the attack
A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office ruled out that the attack was related to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but indicated that the nationality of the victims may have been the motive behind the attacker.
“The Swedish nationality of the victims was mentioned as a possible motive for this act,” the spokesman said.
In recent months, Sweden has seen a series of controversial protests where pages of the Holy Quran were burned, although it is not known whether these events are linked to today’s attack.
In August, the Foreign Office warned British travelers against this It was very likely that terrorists would carry out an attack on Sweden After a series of protests in which the Holy Quran was burned.
10:51 PM GMT
Where did the attack take place?
10:37 PM GMT
The suspect has been identified
The suspect in the murder of two Swedish football fans has been identified by the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office as Abdeslam El, 45.
The man is believed to have been living in an apartment in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels, about a 10-minute drive from the scene of the shooting.
10:19 PM GMT
It is possible that the suspect is known to the security services
Earlier Monday, the alleged terrorist, who uses the name Salim Saloma, shared a post on social media about a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy who was stabbed 26 times in Chicago.
Saloma wrote on Facebook that if the boy had been a Christian, he “would have described it as terrorism, not a brutal crime.”
Belgian news service Sodenfo reported on Monday evening that the suspect was known to Belgian security services due to his apparent extremism before the attack.
The office said there was no immediate connection to the current security situation in Israel following the terrorist attack by Hamas.
10:07 PM GMT
Belgian Prime Minister: “Cowardly attack”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed that Swedish citizens were among the victims of the shooting.
Mr De Croo and his Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden reportedly arrived at the center after the attack.
The Prime Minister said: “My sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims of the cowardly attack in Brussels.
“We are monitoring the situation and ask Brussels residents to be careful.”
Hajja Lahbib, Belgium’s Foreign Minister, confirmed the incident as a terrorist attack. She tweeted: “I am horrified by the terrorist attack that left two victims in the heart of Brussels. All necessary means must be mobilized to combat extremism. “My thoughts are to the victims, their loved ones, and to our law enforcement.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the despicable attack that took place in Brussels this evening.
He added: “My absolute support for the Belgian police forces in quickly arresting the suspect.”
“We are united against terrorism”
10:02 pm GMT
“I saw a car with three bullet holes.”
A witness described seeing a man’s body covered in blood following the shooting in Brussels.
A passerby, named as Mahdi by local media, said: “I saw a man aged about 40 lying on the ground lifeless in a pool of blood. I was in complete shock.
“Ten meters away there was a black car with three bullet holes. There were two men in the car. One of them was dead. The other was still alive, but covered in blood.
09:56 PM GMT
The gunman chased the victims into an office building
The suspected gunman was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” and later recorded a video saying: “We live for our religion. We will die for our religion, thank God.” Thank God that your brother Abdul Salam avenged the Muslims.”
Video footage from the scene also showed the gunman chasing the victims to the entrance of an administrative building and opening fire on them again.
One of the victims, who tried to escape through the main door, fell after hearing the sound of a gunshot, so the gunman returned to attack his victim again.
Other photos show the alleged terrorist riding a motorcycle and driving away from the scene of the attack.
Separate videos were later circulated on social media showing the gunman, still wearing an orange jacket, declaring his association with the ISIS terrorist group.
The gunman was still at large while police secured the scene of the attack near Sanctillet Square, a short distance from downtown Brussels.
09:41 PM GMT
The match was stopped due to a terrorist threat
The Euro 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden was stopped at half-time after the attack and after reports that the suspected gunman was heading towards the King Baudouin National Stadium.
Journalists on the ground said the fans remained on the ground and the score was 1-1.
Fans are eagerly awaiting news.
09:37 PM GMT
Macron: Europe is shaking
French President Emmanuel Macron said that Brussels was once again subjected to an Islamist terrorist attack, in response to reports of the shooting.
He added: “Europe is shaking.”
09:34 PM GMT
What we know so far
two people They were shot dead in an apparent terrorist attack in Belgium. Here’s what we know so far
Suspected terrorist said he was ‘taking revenge on Muslims’ after shooting two Swedish football fans in Brussels.
The shooting came while Belgium was hosting Sweden in the Euro 2024 qualifiers
The alleged gunman, who was wearing an orange jacket, fled the scene after using an automatic rifle
Belgium has raised its alert against terrorism to the highest level
France announced that it had tightened border controls with Belgium
The suspected gunman was heard shouting, “Allahu Akbar!”
Video footage from the scene showed the gunman chasing the victims to the entrance of an office building
We keep track of the latest news in our live blog