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Police shoot dead suspected accused of killing 2 Swedish soccer fans in Belgium

Belgian Police stand behind a cordoned off area close to where a suspected Tunisian extremist has been shot dead hours after manhunt looking for him Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

A man accused of killing two Swedish soccer fans in a suspected terror attack is dead after being tracked down by police in Belgium on Tuesday morning.

The suspect, who has not yet been named, was found by police in Brussels, the Belgian capital. A manhunt was launched after the two Swedish men were killed Monday night in the city by a man who authorities said had claimed to be inspired by the Islamic State terrorist group.

“The perpetrator of the terrorist attack in Brussels has been identified and has died,” Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said Tuesday morning. “We would like to thank the intelligence and security services, as well as the public prosecutor’s office, for their swift and decisive action last night and this morning,” she said on the social platform X.

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She told the Belgian broadcaster VRT that the suspected murder weapon had been found.

Brussels was hosting an international soccer match Monday night between the men’s national teams of Belgium and Sweden, which was abandoned at half time after news of the shootings emerged.

Belgian authorities raised the threat level for Brussels to 4, the highest, and raised the general threat level for Belgium to 3. But prosecutors said there is no indication that the attack was linked to the conflict in the Middle East.

Sweden raised its own terror alert to the second-highest level in August after a series of public Quran burnings by an Iraqi refugee living in Sweden resulted in threats from Islamic militant groups.

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Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Tuesday morning that he had offered his condolences to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

“The man claimed to be inspired by the Islamic State. In the same statement, the Swedish nationality of the victims was mentioned as the possible motive for the attack,” De Croo said, citing video posted on social media.

In a video posted on social media and verified by NBC News, a person in an orange jacket on the street can be seen waving what appeared to be a gun amid the sound of gunfire. In a second video, the shooter enters a building and appears to open fire inside. An apparent victim falls to the floor. The shooter then appears to fire on the victim again.

“Attackers want to seed fear, distrust and division in our free society. Terrorists have to understand that they will never succeed in this mission. They will never subdue our free society. With their hate and violence, they show above all their powerlessness. Terrorism will never beat us,” De Croo added.

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