Two dead after terror attack in central Brussels, suspect on the run

Two dead after terror attack in central Brussels, suspect on the run
Credit: Belga

Two people have died following a shooting on Monday evening in Brussels, near Place Sainctelette. Shots were fired at around 19:15 next to Boulevard d'Ypres.

Emergency services arrived at the scene in large numbers. Brussels residents are advised to rest "vigilant" and to avoid unnecessary journeys. Police are attempting to identify and locate the suspect, who is still on the run.

Based on images taken by a local resident, a man can be seen wearing a bright orange jacket and a white helmet, holding an automatic rifle, and climbing onto a scooter to flee the scene. He reportedly shot first at someone in the entrance hall of a building before firing at two individuals in a taxi. According to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws the two victims were from Sweden.

Illustration picture shows the police perimeter at the site of a shooting incident in the Ieperlaan - Boulevard d'Ypres, Brussels, Monday 16 October 2023.
Credit: Belga/ Hatim Kaghat

In a video posted on social media, a man believed to be the attacker pledged his support for the Islamic State and talked of "murdering infidels" and "avenging the Muslims". A spokesperson for the Federal Prosecutor's Office said that there was "no indication" that the terrorist attack was linked to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

This screenshot taken from a video circulating on social media Monday evening, shows the presumed shooter of a shooting incident in Boulevard d'Ypres, Brussels, Monday 16 October 2023. Credit: Belga

The terror suspect, has officially been identified as "Abdesalem L." The suspect is believed to be a 45-year-old Tunisian national, residing in irregularity in the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek, who was radicalised and shared support for extremism online. The suspects was known to law enforcement in Belgium and Tunisia.

Brussels' terror level has been raised to 4 for the first time since the 2016. The rest of the country has been raised to level 3. According to French media BFM TV, security at the Franco-Belgian border has been strengthened. Dutch authorities have also strengthened their border.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has asked Brussels residents to be "vigilant" as the suspect is still on the run. On X, formerly Twitter, he expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

Security services, federal and local police, and ministers have gathered at the National Crisis Centre to coordinate the response to this attack, which is being described as a terrorist incident.

Credit: Belga

Sweden's national football team were playing Belgium tonight in a Euro 2024 qualifier, although it's currently unclear if the victims were in the city for the match. The match has since been cut short and spectators are being kept within the stadium for their safety. Supporters have begun to evacuate the stadium section by section.

Security at the stadium has been reinforced. "Security measures have been taken urgently in order to best protect Swedish supporters against possible new attacks," Belgium's Crisis Centre reassured.

The King Baudouin and Heysel metro stations are currently closed, a spokesperson for STIB has confirmed. It stresses that reports of shooting in the area are false. There is a heightened police presence in the area around the station. Tram services around Place Sainctelette have been cancelled. Other metro services are running with severe delays.

The EU Commission in Brussels has raised its alert level and will ask its staff to work from home on Tuesday. Car parks for the building will be closed to vehicles and EU schools and crèches will also be closed. The Flemish Government has advised its workers against travelling to Brussels.

This article will be updated as more information is released

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