Two Swedes killed in Brussels shooting, soccer match abandoned

Suspected terrorist claims ISIS inspiration

A shocking shooting incident in Brussels on Monday night left two Swedish nationals dead and a suspected terrorist on the run. The gunman, who identified himself as Abdesalem Al Guilani, claimed he was inspired by ISIS and carried out the attack in revenge for a six-year-old boy in Illinois who was allegedly murdered by his landlord for being Muslim.

The shooting took place around 7 p.m. local time near the Grand Place, a popular tourist spot in the Belgian capital. The victims, a man and a woman, were reportedly walking on the street when they were shot at close range by the assailant, who then fled the scene.

The attack triggered a massive manhunt and a lockdown of the city, as authorities raised the terror alert to the highest level. The police said they were investigating a possible link with the Islamic State group, after a video of the alleged shooter was posted on social media.

Soccer match suspended at halftime

The shooting also had an impact on the Euro 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden, which was being played at the King Baudouin Stadium, about three miles from the crime scene. The match was suspended at halftime, after both teams agreed not to resume the game in light of the tragedy.

“Following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels this evening, it has been decided after consultation with the two teams and the local police authorities, that the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned,” UEFA said in a statement.

Two Swedes killed in Brussels shooting, soccer match abandoned

More than 35,000 soccer fans were stuck inside the stadium for hours, as security measures were taken to protect them and ensure their safe exit. Fans from both sides chanted “All together, All together,” and “Sweden, Sweden!” to show their solidarity and defiance.

Swedish PM condemns ‘harrowing attack’

The Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and condemned the “harrowing attack” on his citizens. He also thanked his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo for his support and cooperation.

“I have just offered my sincere condolences to the Swedish PM following tonight’s harrowing attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels,” De Croo wrote on X. “As close partners the fight against terrorism is a joint one.”

Sweden has been on high alert since August, when a series of Quran burnings by an Iraqi refugee living in Sweden sparked threats from Islamic militant groups. The refugee, who was arrested and charged with hate crimes, said he was protesting against the oppression of Muslims in Iraq.

Belgium faces renewed terror threat

Belgium has also faced several terror attacks in recent years, most notably the coordinated bombings at the Brussels airport and metro station in 2016 that killed 32 people and injured hundreds more. The attacks were claimed by ISIS and carried out by a network of militants linked to the Paris attacks in 2015.

The country has been struggling to cope with the radicalization of some of its citizens, especially those of Moroccan origin who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. According to a 2018 report by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, Belgium had the highest number of foreign fighters per capita among European countries.

The latest shooting has raised fears of a resurgence of terror activity in Belgium, as well as across Europe, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The police have urged the public to remain vigilant and avoid any unnecessary travel.

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