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Euro qualifier Belgium vs Sweden canceled after gunfire

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Thousands of soccer fans were trapped inside Belgium’s National Stadium for about two and a half hours on Monday after the Belgium-Sweden match was called off at half-time after a gunman shot dead two Swedes before kick-off in Brussels. It was done.

More than 35,000 fans watched the European Championship qualifier, which was held about five miles from the shooting incident in the heart of the Belgian capital. With the suspect still at large and reportedly targeting Swedes, Belgian authorities kept fans inside the venue for safety reasons and began evacuation around midnight local time.

Belgian police shot dead a 45-year-old Tunisian man on Tuesday on suspicion of murder. The unidentified man, believed to be an extremist, was shot dead when police tried to arrest him. He later died at the hospital. A bag containing military weapons and clothing was found on the man, who is said to have posted a video online in which he claimed to have killed a Swede and said he was “ready to sacrifice himself” for the Koran. ing.

Interior Minister Anneliese Verlinden: The perpetrator of the Brussels terrorist attack has been identified and killed. posted on social media on Tuesday.

“Last night, three people left for what was supposed to be a great football party. Two of them lost their lives in a brutal terrorist attack,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo told a pre-dawn press conference. Stated. “Their lives were cut short by extreme brutality while on the run.”

Mr Decroo said his thoughts were with the families of the victims and he had expressed his condolences to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Security has been stepped up in the capital, especially around areas associated with the city’s Swedish community.

“The attack that took place yesterday was carried out with sheer cowardice,” Decroo said.

“Everything points to this being a terrorist attack against Sweden and the Swedish people, simply because they are Swedish,” Kristersson said. He said the suspect had been in Sweden from time to time, but was not listed in Swedish police records.

De Croo said the assailant, a Tunisian man living in Belgium illegally, used a military weapon to kill two Swedes, with a third being treated for “serious injuries”. .

After Monday’s game was suspended, fans chanted “all hands on deck” inside King Baudoin Stadium, and thousands of supporters of both teams also chanted “Sweden!”

Manu Leroy, chief executive of the Belgian Football Association, said it was discovered 10 minutes before kick-off that “something serious” had happened in downtown Brussels.

“The reason we decided to hold the game in the first place was because the stadium was the safest place at the time, so the fans could be here and be safe,” he said.

Fans remained patient until late into the night, still chanting as midnight approached. Leroy said the Swedish fans were the last to leave the stadium, adding: “They will obviously go straight to the airport and leave as the police will escort the Swedish fans and players.”

The Swedish players returned to their clubs on Tuesday after returning home on an overnight flight from Brussels. Sweden captain Victor Lindelof said on Monday that his players never felt in danger.

“Our security team handled it well, which gave me peace of mind,” Lindelof said. “They explained that this is the safest place in Brussels.”

The last Swedish fans, about 650 in total, left the stadium at around 4 a.m. local time, accompanied by several federation staff, under police surveillance, the Swedish Football Association said. The federation said all hotels where Sweden supporters were staying were also under police guard.

The scene of fans trapped in Europe’s major stadiums was the first in a row at the Stade de Paris on the outskirts of Paris, when France’s national stadium was attacked by Islamic State militants during the France-Germany match on November 13, 2015.・It reminded me of the scene in France.

It remained unclear whether the game, tied 1-1 at halftime, would be resolved at a later date. European soccer governing body UEFA said on Tuesday it was too early to make any decisions and “further communication will be made in due course.”

Belgium and Austria have qualified from Group F for next year’s tournament in Germany, but both teams can still make it through their groups. Sweden cannot finish lower than 3rd place in their group and will not be able to qualify for the European Championship.

“Belgium have already qualified and we have no chance to play in the European Championship, so there is no reason to play,” Lindelof said on Monday.

Information from Reuters and Associated Press was used in this article.

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