The suspected shooter from Brussels has died. This was announced by Belgium's Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden on X (formerly Twitter) and the public prosecutor's office on Tuesday. Belgian and French media also reported on the death of the suspected assassin. After the fatal shots at two Swedes on Monday evening, Belgian police gunned down the armed suspect in a café in the Schaerbeek district. An automatic weapon was found on the man, which was used in the attack, reports the newspaper Le Soir, citing Verlinden.
Two people were killed in the incident in central Brussels. According to the Belga news agency, the perpetrator got off a scooter armed and fired shots on the street. When several people fled into a house entrance, he is said to have chased them and shot them. The police did not initially confirm this information.
You can read an article with questions and answers about the attack in Brussels here:
The man is known to the police. The investigation is still ongoing, but it can already be said that it is a 45-year-old Tunisian who applied for asylum in Belgium in November 2019, said Justice Minister Vincent van Quickenborne. The police noticed him in connection with human trafficking, illegal residence and endangering state security. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said at a press conference on Tuesday that the suspected attacker had "temporarily stayed in Sweden." However, he was not known to the Swedish police. “We in Sweden and the EU need to control our borders better,” said Kristersson.
The highest level of terror was declared for the Belgian capital on Monday evening. The federal public prosecutor's office took over the investigation because of a "potentially terrorist motive." Some media reported that the shooting could have an Islamist background.
The fatalities are two Swedes. According to the public prosecutor's office, a third victim is now out of danger. Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson confirmed that all of the victims were Swedish. The injured victim is in the hospital.
The two Swedes died around five kilometers away from the Brussels football stadium, where the national teams of Belgium and Sweden were playing against each other in a European Championship qualifier. The game was canceled. The news of the deaths of the two Swedes spread during half-time. According to the Swedish TV channel SVT, the Swedish national team players then decided not to continue the game. The Belgian national players would have joined in. For safety reasons, several thousand people initially had to stay in the Brussels football stadium until they could be evacuated.
The Swedish nationality of the victims could be a motivation for the crime, the Belgian news agency Belga quoted a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office as saying. “Everything indicates that this is a terrorist act directed against Sweden and Swedish citizens,” Kristersson said at the press conference and called for vigilance.
It is not the first time that people have fallen victim to an attack in Brussels. The trial of the 2016 Brussels terrorist attacks only ended around four weeks ago. Three suicide bombers from the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) detonated bombs at Brussels' Zaventem airport and in a subway station in the heart of the Belgian capital. They killed over 30 people and injured 340. Media reports at the time also caused disbelief among those left behind that several of the defendants had been monitored by the Belgian security authorities before the attacks - and were still able to commit their bloody acts later.
According to the Federal Prosecutor's Office, a post by a person who posed as the attacker and claimed to be inspired by the terrorist organization Islamic State was shared on social networks. A video is also being shared online that is supposed to show the crime.
The Belga news agency quoted a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office as saying that the victims' Swedish nationality could also be a motivation for the crime. This year, people in Sweden and later also in Denmark burned copies of the Koran several times, triggering angry reactions among Muslims. All this caused diplomatic trouble for the Scandinavian countries.
The authorities did not establish a connection between the attack and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
De Croo expressed his sincere condolences to Kristersson: "As close partners, the fight against terrorism is a common fight." However, the spokesman for the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office made it clear that there was so far no connection between the attack and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke of a “cowardly attack” and expressed her condolences to the people of Sweden. Belgian EU Council President Charles Michel wrote on The Belgian Royal Palace was “shocked” and expressed its “support for the security forces who are doing everything they can to catch the perpetrator of the crimes,” it said on X.
The Council of Muslims in Belgium condemned the attack. He called on the authorities "to exercise the utmost determination to protect our national community and shed light on the issue as quickly as possible."
Note: The article is continually updated.