As home to many of Europe's largest institutions and a busy capital that welcomes high numbers of tourists year-round, security in Brussels will always be high on the list of priorities for city authorities. Though not heavy-handed, police presence is felt – especially in the busier parts of town.
This doesn't mean that incidents don't occur (most notably with the 2016 terrorist attacks), but they are certainly deterred. Which makes it unusual for acts of extreme violence to happen in public spaces, especially on Place De Brouckère, bang in the city centre.
Yet on Saturday evening, the busiest conceivable time, the bustling square became the scene of a fatal shooting as a 43-year-old man was shot six times. It now transpires that the act was likely part of a long vendetta that has already claimed several lives over 20 years.
I admit that planning a hit job has never been something I've devoted much thought to, but I would probably choose somewhere a little less conspicuous for the deed rather than right in the public eye. The suspect has now been detained, local media report. This isn't surprising given the audacious circumstances.
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close responded to the incident stating in no uncertain terms his concern for public safety. As the city gears up for a busy summer, streets will be packed more than ever, no doubt with plenty of police among the crowds.
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