Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

Football fans have been told to stay inside Belgium’s national stadium after two Swedish people were shot dead in a terror attack in Brussels.

The Euro 2024 qualifier between Belgium and Sweden was abandoned at half-time after “the players decided they do not want to continue the game, because of what happened earlier today”.

A UEFA spokesperson said: “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 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned.”

The shooting took place about three miles (5km) from the 35,000-seater King Baudouin Stadium shortly after 7pm – around 45 minutes before kick-off.

Shortly after the shooting, a man who claimed to be the gunman released a video on social media in which he claimed to be a member of Islamic State (IS) and a “fighter for Allah”.

He also claimed he had carried out the attack in “revenge in the name of Muslims”.

No suspect has yet been arrested, and armed police have cordoned off the scene.

A police spokesperson confirmed that two people had been killed in a shooting, but declined to give further details.

Forensic teams at the scene

Belgium’s National Crisis Centre raised the terror alert in the city to the highest level on Monday night. It has been moved to the second highest for the rest of Belgium.

The country’s prime minister, Alexander De Croo, also appeared to link the incident to terrorism.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, he wrote: “I have just offered my sincere condolences to the Swedish prime minister following tonight’s harrowing attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels.

“Our thoughts are with the families and friends who lost their loved ones. As close partners, the fight against terrorism is a joint one.”

Sweden supporters react on stands during the Euro 2024 group F qualifying soccer match between Belgium and Sweden at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. Two Swedes were killed in a shooting late Monday in central Brussels, police said, prompting Belgium's prime minister and senior Cabinet minister to hunker down at their crisis center for an emergency meeting. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Sweden fans at the game at the King Baudouin Stadium

In an earlier post, he offered his “deepest condolences” to the relatives of those killed in what he described as a “cowardly assassination attempt”.

He also urged the residents of Brussels to “be vigilant”.

Swedish Justice Minister, Gunnar Strommer, said his government was working with authorities in Belgium “to get more information about what happened”.

“Tonight we have received terrible news from Brussels,” he said in a statement.

“The government office and relevant authorities are working intensively to get more information about what happened.”

The shooting took place near Boulevard d’Ypres – in an area to the north of Brussels city centre.

The area is around three miles (5km) from the King Baudouin Stadium, where the Euro 2024 qualifier is taking place.

Laura Demullier of Belgium’s OCAD anti-terror centre said the highest priority for authorities was to get thousands of football fans attending the match safely out of the stadium.

A map showing the location of a fatal shooting in Brussels, Belgium
A map showing the location of the shooting and the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels

Video reported to be of the incident, and which has not been verified by Sky News, shows a gunman in a fluorescent orange jacket and a white helmet chasing a man into a building.

One witness to the shooting told the Dutch-language newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws: “I was completely in shock and immediately started shouting.”

Source link