Two Swedes have been killed in a shooting in central Brussels, police said, as the gunman remains at large.
Another person was also reportedly injured in the attack, in which a man opened fire at around 7.15pm on Monday.
After the attack, the Belgian crisis center raised the alert level in Brussels to the highest level of four.
Meanwhile, a European Championship qualifier between Sweden and Brussels was interrupted at half-time.
Eric van Duyse, spokesman for the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, confirmed on Monday evening that the suspect had not yet been arrested, adding that the attacker claimed to be inspired by the Islamic State.
Mr van Duyse urged Belgians: “Go home and stay at home until the threat has been eliminated.”
Shots were fired near Place Sainctelette on Monday evening by an unknown suspect who was reportedly riding a moped.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo later confirmed that the two people killed in the shooting were Swedes.
The murders took place around five kilometers from the stadium, where over 35,000 fans were watching the Belgium-Sweden football match.
“The population must be actively vigilant and avoid unnecessary travel,” said Laura Demullier, spokeswoman for the Counter-Terrorism Center, adding that getting the thousands of fans safely out of the King Baudouin Stadium was the authorities’ top priority bring to.
Mr De Croo linked the shooting to “terrorism”.
“I have just expressed my sincere condolences to the Swedish Prime Minister following a shocking attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels this evening,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“As close partners, the fight against terrorism is a shared fight.”
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron described Monday night’s incident in Albania as an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
“Europe is being shaken,” he said.
An investigating source said the suspect was “screaming to carry out a revenge attack” when the attack took place.
“He shot at different people and hit several of them,” the source said. “This had all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.
“Two Swedish football fans died in a taxi after being attacked by the man, who then got away on his moped,” they added.
The suspect, wearing a crash helmet and fluorescent jacket, brandished a Kalashnikov-style weapon and had also shot a man in the lobby of a nearby building.
“The alleged perpetrator posted a video in which he is a member of ISIS,” said the investigating source.
The claim was also published by Sudinfo, one of Belgium’s largest news agencies. The Facebook post said the man “bragged about murdering infidels.”
It continues: “In his very violent speech, he said that he shot two people to avenge the Muslims and that we live and die for our religion.”
A Belgian government spokesman said representatives of the country’s security services, the prosecutor’s office and the cabinet had gathered at a crisis center to discuss the terrorist motive.
“All partners were actually called together,” said Laura Demullier, spokeswoman for the state crisis center. Everyone is asked to come here as soon as possible to discuss the next step.”
Large numbers of emergency services arrived at the scene of the shooting within a few minutes, but a suspect has not yet been arrested.
A spokesman for the Brussels police said: “We are talking about two deaths, they are probably Swedish.”
The Swedish national soccer team was playing a European Championship qualifier against Belgium at Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium on Monday evening when the game was abandoned at half-time.
Players from both teams reportedly decided during half-time that the game should not continue. The score at that time was 1:1.
Viktor Gyokeres gave Sweden the lead in the 15th minute, but Romelu Lukaku equalized for Belgium just after half an hour.
The shooting came at a time of heightened vigilance over the Israel-Hamas war, which has raised tensions in several European countries.
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