Brussels shooting: Gunman kills two Swedish fans in Belgium as Euro 2024 qualifier gets suspended

Two Swedish nationals have been shot dead and a third person injured in Brussels, in an attack which prosecutors are treating as terrorism.

The European Championship qualifier game between Belgium and Sweden has been called off after reports of a shooting in the city left two Swedish fans dead.

The qualifying match was being played at about 3 miles away from the shooting scene in the centre of the Belgian capital, and more than 35,000 fans were in attendance at the match.

With the suspect then still at large and reportedly targeting Swedes, Belgian authorities kept fans inside the venue for security reasons before starting the evacuation around midnight local time.

According to the BBC, citing a spokesperson for Belgium’s federal prosecutor, a video on social media showed a man claiming to be the attacker, who claimed to have been inspired by the Islamic State, a terrorist organization that took vast swaths of Iraq and Syria in the mid-2010s.

The BBC also cited an unverified video shared by Belgian newspaper, Het Laatste Nieuws that showed the attacker apparently wielding an assault rifle, wearing a fluorescent orange jacket, as well as arriving and escaping on a scooter.

The attack occurred about 7 p.m. Belgium time and the gunman remains at large as of writing this report.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo expressed his sympathies to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson following the incident, calling it “cowardly”.

ESPN reported a spokesperson for Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office said that the Swedish nationality of the victims was “put forward as the probable motive” for the shooting, with the BBC further noting that the victims were wearing Swedish national team jerseys at the time.

The report also quoted the spokesperson as saying that there was no link at the moment to events in Israel and Gaza at the time, but the report also said that Sweden had raised its terror alert level to its second-highest level while Belgium had raised its terror alert to the highest level.

Fans attending the Belgium-Sweden match were kept in the stadium for their own safety, with officials claiming that the venue was the “safest place they could be at the time”.

The gunshot was discovered at halftime, when the scores were level, and the Swedish team refused to return to the field, forcing the match to be abandoned.

The move appeared to be supported by the fans in the stadium, with ESPN reporting that fans of both nations chanting “All together, all together”, as well as “Sweden, Sweden”.

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