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17th Oct 2023

“What kind of world do we live in today?” – Brussels murders leave Swedish football reeling

Steve Hopkins

It has not yet been confirmed if the shot man is the person being sought over Monday’s shootings

A person has been shot at a Brussels cafe amid a massive manhunt for the gunman who killed two Swedish nationals and wounded a third person, on Monday night.

The man was shot in a café in the Schaerbeek neighbourhood, local media reported.

Belgian prosecutors confirmed the incident but said they could not yet confirm whether the man was the attacker, the BBC reported. However, a short time later the Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said the shot person was likely to be the suspect.

Verlinden told Flemish public broadcaster VRT that the automatic weapon found on the arrested person was the same as the one used in Monday’s attack.


‘It was completely unreal’ – Sweden manager

Sweden and Belgium commenced their European Championships qualifier at King Baudouin Stadium, last night, before news had been officially confirmed about the shootings.

The game halted at half-time and never resumed. Sweden manager Janne Andersson said he and the players only found out about the tragedy at half-time. He told reporters:

When I came down for the break, I got this information. Immediately, I felt that it was completely unreal. What kind of world do we live in today?

“I came into the locker room and when the team started talking, we agreed 100% that we didn’t want to play on out of respect for the victims and their families.”

The game was abandoned at 9:30pm but, with the gunman still on the loose, fans were ordered to stay inside the stadium for their safety. They were allowed leave at 10:45pm and given police escorts into the city. The Swedish players were escorted by police to the airport.

Brussels has been on its highest terror alert after the shootings which led to Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Sweden being abandoned at half-time. The suspected shooter was named in local media reports as as Abdesalem L.

Monday’s shooting took place about three miles (5km) from the 50,000-seater King Baudouin Stadium shortly after 7pm local time – around 45 minutes before kick-off.

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

One Belgium newspaper said a witness heard the gunman shout “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great” in Arabic – before the shots were fired.

Sweden captain Victor Lindelof told reporters, “Belgium are already qualified and we don’t have the opportunity to get to the European Championship, so I see no reason to [replay the game].”


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