The gunman suspected of killing two Swedes in a terrorist attack in Brussels has died after police opened fire, ending an overnight manhunt.
Belgium’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office confirmed on Tuesday that the suspect, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, was killed.
According to Belgium’s National Crisis Center (NCCN), he was found by a witness in a cafe in Skarbeek, Brussels, shortly after 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday, and was shot dead during a police “intervention.”
Emergency services attempted to resuscitate the suspect, but he was pronounced dead at a hospital later that morning, and a military-style weapon was found in the cafe, NCCN added.
Belgian authorities said on Tuesday that there may be a link between the attack and the current Israeli-Hamas war, Belgian public broadcaster RTBF reported.
A deadly attack by a suspected gunman occurred on Monday night as Belgium hosted Sweden in a Euro 2024 qualifying soccer match at the King Baudouin Stadium, three miles (5 kilometers) from downtown Brussels. The game was forced to be stopped at halftime.
The stadium was then evacuated and fans were told to return home immediately, NCCN said.
In a video posted on social media, a spokesperson for the Belgian federal public prosecutor’s office claimed that the gunman was “inspired by the Islamic State” and “cited the victim’s Swedish nationality as a possible motive.” “It was done,” he added. action. ”
RTBF said the attacker was found to have shared numerous messages on social media in support of the Palestinian people, “therefore the situation in the Middle East may have played a role,” the Federal Prosecutor’s Office announced on Tuesday.
The office added, “A more detailed investigation needs to reveal the perpetrator’s exact motive.”
Federal prosecutor Spokesman Eric van Does initially said there was no indication of a potential connection to the Israel-Hamas war.
The shooting sparked a spate of Quran-burning protests in Sweden and Denmark, sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim-majority countries and raised security concerns, prompting both Scandinavian countries to overhaul their liberal laws on free speech. I doubt whether there is.
Witnesses to the attack told Reuters they heard the first gunshots, saw the couple flee and saw a white car accelerate past.
“That’s when I saw the assailant enter the building. He fired two shots at the man,” he said. “The man fell to the ground. I saw him fall because I was right next to him and I could see everything that was going on inside. I stayed there. I froze and couldn’t move. I’m still shaking because of what happened. Then the man came back and fired another shot and came out. ”
Belgian authorities condemned the attack.
“Horrified by the terrorist attack that left two people dead in the center of Brussels,” Belgian Foreign Minister Haja Rabib wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “All necessary means must be mobilized to combat radicalism. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, and the police.”
Following the attack, Brussels’ terror level was raised to level 4, the highest level, and France’s interior ministry told CNN it had “intensified” checks at the France-Belgium border.
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close posted that police were patrolling the streets to ensure safety. With X.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said in a post on X on Tuesday that his “deepest condolences go to the families of this dastardly attack.”
“We are currently working to ensure the safe return of Swedish football fans.”
UAEFA announced on Tuesday that a moment of silence would be observed at all Euro 2024 qualifying matches in memory of the two victims of the attack.
The European Parliament observed a moment of silence for the victims early Tuesday.
The alert level for the European Parliament building in Brussels has been raised to orange, European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola said in a speech in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called on the European Union to strengthen border controls and internal security following the terrorist attacks, saying the region could not afford to be “naive”. Ta.
“All signs point to this being a terrorist attack targeting Sweden and Swedish citizens simply because they are Swedish,” Kristersson said at a press conference. “These terrorists are trying to intimidate us into submission and silence. That’s not going to happen,” he added.
Christerson told X that he plans to travel to Brussels on Wednesday to remember and pay tribute to the victims of the attacks.