Belgian police shoot dead man in search for Brussels terror suspect

The man is suspected of killing two Swedish nationals and wounding another in shooting spree

Belgium attack
Emergency services personnel in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels, where the suspected perpetrator of the terror attack was shot dead during a police raid
(Image credit: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)

A gunman suspected of carrying out a terror attack in which two Swedish football fans were killed was shot dead by Belgian police this morning.

"The perpetrator of the Brussels terrorist attack was identified and has died," said Belgium's interior minister, Annelies Verlinden, in a statement. "Our thanks to the intelligence and security services and the public prosecutor's office for their quick and decisive action last night and this morning."

Monday night's attack took place about a mile north of the city centre’s Grand Place, close to the Sainte Catherine area, "a popular spot filled with restaurants and bars", said Politico. The attack, in which two Swedish nationals were killed and a third was wounded, happened just before the start of the international football match between Belgium and Sweden, which was then abandoned at half-time. 

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The suspect, who identified himself as a member of Islamic State and claimed responsibility for the attack in an online video, was found during a police raid in Brussels' northern Schaerbeek district on Tuesday morning. "He was found in a cafe and shot there," said Verlinden. 

Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne told a news conference that the 45-year-old suspect was known to the police, and had been denied asylum in Belgium in 2019. He was suspected of involvement in human trafficking, living illegally in Belgium, and posing a risk to state security.

Video footage of the attack, posted on the Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper website, showed a man in an orange jacket on a scooter at a street intersection with a rifle, firing five shots. He then pursued people fleeing into a building, firing again. Police are actively seeking an accomplice who allegedly filmed the attack, the newspaper reported.

Belgium has been "the target of several Islamist attacks" in recent years, with the deadliest being the 2016 bombings of Brussels airport and the city's metro, in which 32 people died. "Several of the Islamist gunmen who targeted Paris in a 2015 attack that killed 130 people were Belgian or living in Brussels," said Reuters.

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