Update (1730ET): French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that Europe had been "shaken" by a "terrorist attack" in Brussels, after two Swedes were killed in a shooting.
"A few minutes ago, Brussels was hit again by an Islamist terrorist attack which apparently, as I speak to you, took the lives of at least two other Europeans, two Swedes," Macron said during a visit to Tirana, according to AFP.
Perhaps most ironically, given the comments from various world l;aders about this "terrorist" attack by a muslim man, who recorded a video of himself explaining this was to "avenge the Muslims that have died for their religion", the Belgian prosecuor has issues a statement that there is 'no immediate link to Israel-Hamas'.
“So there has been a claim via social media where someone says he is the perpetrator, that he has sympathies for IS, and what is also important, he mentions the Swedish nationality of those victims,” Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, told the Belgian broadcaster VTM.
“For now, at the current stage of the investigation, there would be no relationship to the conflict in Gaza,” he added.
Belgium’s government crisis center confirmed reports of the killings and asked the public not to share images or videos that might be related to the incident.
As a reminder, Brussels was hit by major Islamic State terrorist attacks in 2016, which left more than 30 people dead and hundreds injured.
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Update (1630): Belgium's crisis center has raised Brussels' terror alert status to its highest level, and France was tightening controls at its border with Belgium, France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said.
“Horrified by the terrorist attack which left two victims in the heart of Brussels,” Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said in a post on the X social media network.
“All necessary means must be mobilized to combat radicalism.”
“We are monitoring the situation and ask the people of Brussels to be vigilant,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a post on X, but appeared to confirm the link to terrorism:
"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."
Additionally, the Euro 2024 soccer qualifier between Belgium and Sweden (taking place in Belgium's national stadium in Brussels) has been abandoned at half-time after the attack, with fans locked in the stadium.
No suspect has yet been arrested.
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As Remix News' Thomas Brooke reported, two people have been shot dead and others injured in central Brussels on Monday evening and the perpetrator remains at large, Belgian police have said.
Authorities have confirmed a shooting took place in Ieperlaan at around 7:15 p.m. local time and two people of Swedish nationality were killed.
The victims are understood to have been supporters of the Swedish national football team and were visiting the Belgian capital to attend the European Championship qualifying fixture between the two nations at the Heysel Stadium on Monday evening.
Amateur footage circulating outline showed the perpetrator, dressed in a fluorescent orange jacket and wearing a white helmet, equipped with an assault rifle on the rampage in the city. The suspect arrived at the scene on a scooter before opening fire in the street causing pedestrians to flee into a nearby apartment building.
Ce n’est pas une blague, s’il vous plaît faites attention à vous pic.twitter.com/9tP4Us1iUG— Votre Nom Ici (@momoblf) October 16, 2023
The man followed those fleeing the scene into the lobby of the residential building before firing several more shots, before returning to his scooter and taking off at speed.
Belgian media reported eyewitness testimony which stated the shooter shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire.
Additional footage circulating online purports to be a video message recorded in Arabic by the shooter who is wearing the same identifiable clothing following the attack. According to the Sudinfo news outlet, the attacker said his motivation for the mass shooting was to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world and boasted about killing “infidels.”
“In his very violent speech, he said he had shot two people to ‘avenge the Muslims and that we live and die for our religion,'” the news site stated.
Crisis meetings have taken place between the Belgian federal police, the Brussels local police, the security services, and Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden and Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.
Authorities have not yet made an arrest and the suspect remains at large.
This is a developing story...