A gunman opened fire on Swedish football fans in Brussels, killing two and injuring one. The suspect was later cornered and fatally wounded by Belgian police. The attack prompted the cancellation of the Belgium-Sweden international match. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described the incident as a terror attack.
Police officers secure the area outside the King Baudouin Stadium after a shooting in Brussels, Belgium, October 16, 2023. Photo by Reuters
The attack on Swedish football fans in Brussels on Monday night left two dead and one injured. The gunman, who was later identified as being of Tunisian origin and living in Belgium illegally, opened fire outside the King Baudouin Stadium before fleeing on a scooter. The incident prompted a city-wide manhunt and the evacuation of the stadium during a European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden.
Belgian police cornered the suspect and he was fatally wounded during his arrest on Tuesday morning. The country’s Interior Minister, Annelies Verlinden, confirmed his identity as the perpetrator of the murders. The motive for the attack was revealed in a social media post made by the gunman, who claimed to be inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.
The shooting has caused shock and dismay in both Brussels and Sweden. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described the attack as a direct targeting of Swedish citizens and expressed his sadness at the loss of life. In recent months, Sweden has experienced tensions due to protests where copies of the Koran were burned, leading to diplomatic protests from Muslim countries.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo described the attack as an act of “total cowardice” and emphasized that terrorism aims to sow fear, mistrust, and division in free societies. He also highlighted that terrorists will never achieve their goals.
The incident has raised concerns about the threat of terrorism in Belgium, which had previously been targeted by the Islamic State in 2016 when suicide bombers attacked Brussels’ main airport and metro system, killing 35 people.
The abandoned football match and the tragic loss of life serve as a reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by countries in combating terrorism and ensuring the safety of their citizens.