Saturday June 22, 2024

2 Swedish soccer fans killed in Brussels shooting

Published : 16 Oct 2023, 23:01

Updated : 17 Oct 2023, 02:43

  DF News Desk
File Photo: Xinhua.

Two Swedish soccer fans were killed in a shooting that rocked Brussels on Monday evening, while the Belgian Red Devils team were playing against Sweden at the King Baudouin Stadium 4.8 kms away from the site, reported Xinhua.

"This evening, just after 7:00 PM (1700 GMT), a firearm attack targeted three individuals at the intersection of Boulevard Sainctelette and 9th de Ligne at the center of Brussels. Two of the targeted individuals have died. The third, a taxi driver, is now out of danger," Eric van Duyses, the spokesperson of the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office of Belgium, said at a press briefing in the night.

"My deepest condolences to the relatives of this cowardly attack in Brussels. I am closely following the situation, together with the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs from @CrisiscenterBE. We are monitoring the situation and ask the people of Brussels to be vigilant," Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo posted on social media platform X, formerly known as twitter.

Images captured by witnesses show the shooter dressed in a fluorescent orange jacket and a white helmet, firing from a moped. In a video posted on Facebook, the assailant claims allegiance to the Islamic State, saying his motivation for the shooting is to avenge Muslims.

Earlier this year, the burning of the Muslim holy book Quran took place several times in Sweden's capital Stockholm, sparking condemnation from Muslim countries against the Swedish authorities.

Van Duyses mentioned the video, saying: "This claim states that it was inspired by the Islamic State, and the Swedish nationality of the two victims is cited as a probable motivation for the act."

According to the spokesperson, a federal emergency state was triggered following the shooting, involving the mobilization of the federal crisis center. The perpetrator is still at large.

As the Sweden-Belgium match tonight had attracted over 35,000 soccer fans in the nearby King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels police have to take emergency security measures to better protect Swedes, who are present in large numbers.

The Belgium-Sweden match had to be abandoned. "The football stadium is being evacuated. Please follow the instructions of the emergency services. Return home immediately," Crisis Center Belgium said in a post on X.

The federal prosecutor's office has taken over the investigation into the shooting due to possible terrorism links.

The Belgian Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis has raised the threat level in Brussels to 4, its highest level, while setting the rest of Belgium at level 3.