Suspect in fatal shooting of 2 Swedes in Belgium shot dead by police, authorities say

Brussels — Police in Belgium on Tuesday shot dead a suspected Tunisian extremist accused of killing two Swedish soccer 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, “We have the good news that we found the individual.” She said the weapon believed to have been used in the shooting was recovered.

Suspect arrested for killing two people in Brussels
Police take security measures on Oct. 17, 2023 as they shoot and capture the man they say was the suspect who opened fire randomly in the city center the day before, killing 2 Swedish soccer fans in Brussels, Belgium.

Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu via Getty Images

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 gunman. He was shot by police in the Schaerbeek neighborhood 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, taking out a large weapon and opening 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. 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 soccer 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.

De Croo said the assailant was a Tunisian man living illegally in Belgium who used a military weapon to kill the two Swedes and shoot a third, who is being treated for “severe injuries.”

Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw described how the suspect, a 45-year-old man who wasn’t identified, had posted a video online claiming to have killed three Swedish people.

The suspect is alleged to have said in the video that, for him, the Quran is “a red line for which he is ready to sacrifice himself.” Suspect in fatal shooting of 2 Swedes in Belgium shot dead by police, authorities say

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