Two Swedish nationals were shot dead, and another was wounded in Brussels in what authorities are investigating as a potential act of terrorism.
The gunman, wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket, made his escape on a scooter, prompting Belgium to elevate its terror alert to the maximum level four in the Brussels region, and to level three across the nation.
The Euro 2024 qualifier football match between Belgium and Sweden underway in the city was subsequently called off.
While visiting Albania, French President Emmanuel Macron issued a statement, declaring, “Europe has been shaken.”
Eric van Duyse, a spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, advised residents to “go home and stay at home until the threat has been eradicated.”
He added that a man claiming to be the assailant announced in a digital media post that his actions were inspired by the Islamic State group.
A video reveals a man speaking Arabic, claiming he conducted the assault in God’s name and killed three people.
Authorities are verifying the authenticity of this video and others posted during the attack.
A terrorism investigation has been launched by federal authorities regarding the shooting incident on Boulevard d’Ypres.
Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper shared a video on social media Monday, showing a man in a high-visibility vest getting off a scooter and, apparently armed with a military-style rifle, entering a nearby building with a glass facade.
He appears to fire his weapon, hitting at least one person. Police and emergency services responded, cordoning off nearby streets after the shooting, which happened around 19:00 (17:00 GMT).
Belgian media outlets report that the victims were wearing football jerseys of the Swedish national team.
Swedish players relayed to UEFA their decision to not proceed with the game, a sentiment echoed by the Belgian team, as per reports by the Swedish network TV6.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo offered “sincere condolences to the Swedish PM following the harrowing attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels” on social media.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends who lost their loved ones,” he stated. “As close partners, the fight against terrorism is a joint one.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen shared on social media that her thoughts were “with the families of the two victims of the despicable attack in Brussels.”
“I extend my heartfelt support to the Belgian police to swiftly apprehend the suspect,” she said. “Together, we stand united against terror.””
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