In a tragic incident in Brussels, Belgian police have shot dead a 45-year-old man named Abdesalem who killed two Swedish nationals and injured another. The attack occurred on Monday evening, just 5km away from the stadium where Belgium was playing Sweden in a football tournament. Videos shared online show the attacker, dressed in an orange fluorescent jacket, opening fire on innocent bystanders before capturing the horrifying act on camera and admitting to the killings. The suspect, who was in Belgium illegally after his asylum application was rejected, was found the following morning and shot in the chest. Authorities believe he was inspired by the Islamic State group. The incident has raised security concerns and fear of further attacks in Brussels and across Europe.
Brussels Shooting: Police Shoot Dead Attacker
On Monday evening, a shooting took place in Brussels, Belgium, resulting in the deaths of two Swedish nationals and the injury of another. The attacker, a 45-year-old man named Abdesalem, was later shot dead by Belgian police. The incident occurred near the stadium where Belgium was playing Sweden for the Euro 2024 football tournament qualification. The motive for the attack is believed to be terrorism, with the suspect claiming to have killed Swedish people in a video. This tragic event has prompted an increase in security measures and heightened threat levels in Belgium, as well as raising concerns about potential future attacks.
The shooting occurred on Monday evening at approximately 19:00 (17:00 GMT) on the Boulevard d’Ypres in Brussels. The attacker, dressed in an orange fluorescent jacket, approached the area on a scooter and opened fire with an automatic rifle. The victims, who were all men in their 60s and 70s, were targeted as they walked on the street. Videos shared online captured the horrifying incident, which included the attacker chasing people into an apartment building and gunning them down. In a disturbing twist, the suspect filmed himself admitting to the killings and claimed to be fighting for God.
Manhunt and Suspect’s Capture
Following the attack, a manhunt was launched to locate the suspect. Overnight, security measures were increased at the Belgian border, with France also providing assistance. The breakthrough in the investigation came when a witness reported seeing the suspect in a café near his accommodation in Schaerbeek, a neighborhood in Brussels. The witness informed the police that the suspect was carrying a military weapon and a bag of clothes. Police acted swiftly and found the suspect in the café. They shot him in the chest, and although he received intensive care treatment, he later died from his wounds.
Belgian Threat Level
In response to the attack, Belgium raised its threat level to the highest level, level four. This decision was made to ensure the safety of the public and to deploy additional security measures. However, after the suspect was killed, the threat level was lowered to level three. Authorities assessed that the imminent threat had disappeared with the death of the attacker. It is important to note that there was initially no indication of a link between the attack and the Israel-Gaza war. However, Belgian prosecutors later stated that the possibility could not be completely ruled out.
Motive and Targets
Belgian authorities believe that the suspect, who was in Belgium illegally after his asylum application was rejected, was inspired by the Islamic State (IS) group to commit the attack. The victims, who were all Swedish nationals, were likely targeted because of their nationality. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described the incident as a terror attack targeted at Sweden and Swedish citizens. The motive behind targeting Swedes specifically remains under investigation.
Response and Security Measures
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo condemned the shooting as a “harrowing act of terrorism” and expressed his condolences to the victims’ families. The Swedish government issued an urgent message to its citizens both in Belgium and abroad, urging them to remain vigilant. In response to the attack, increased security measures were implemented for the Euro 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden. UEFA also paid tribute to the victims by observing a moment of silence at all qualifying matches held on that day.
Impact on Euro 2024 Qualifying Match
Due to security concerns, the Euro 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden was abandoned at halftime. Approximately 35,000 supporters were evacuated from the King Baudouin Stadium after waiting for hours. This incident highlights the impact of terrorism on sporting events and the need for robust security measures to ensure the safety of participants and spectators.
Public Reaction and Fear
Following the attack, many individuals in Brussels and across Europe expressed fear and apprehension about the potential for further attacks. The local community is shaken by the incident, with one resident stating that they don’t feel safe. The presence of increased police presence provides some relief, but the threat of terrorism continues to loom large. It is crucial for authorities to address these concerns and implement measures to reassure the public of their safety.
Suspect’s Background and Security Concerns
The suspect, a Tunisian man, had applied for asylum in Belgium in November 2019 but was rejected in October 2020. He had been off the radar of Belgian authorities after being removed from the national register in February 2021. Moreover, he had been ordered to leave the country due to suspicions of human trafficking and his involvement in people smuggling. The case raises concerns about the effectiveness of immigration and asylum processes in identifying potential security threats.
The shooting in Brussels has garnered international attention, with leaders and organizations expressing their condolences and denouncing the act of terrorism. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced increased security measures for a football match between France and Scotland in Lille, which is approximately 100km from Brussels. Additionally, UEFA paid tribute to the victims by observing a moment of silence at all Euro 2024 qualifying matches. The incident highlights the need for international cooperation in combating terrorism and ensuring public safety.
In conclusion, the shooting in Brussels has had a devastating impact, resulting in the loss of lives and instilling fear in the local community and beyond. The motive behind the attack, as well as the specific targeting of Swedish nationals, are important aspects of the ongoing investigation. The swift response of Belgian authorities and the cooperation of international partners have demonstrated the commitment to combat terrorism. It is crucial for security measures to remain vigilant, and for governments to address concerns and reassure the public in the face of ongoing threats.