A suspect in the killing of two Swedish nationals in Brussels on Monday evening, in what officials called an act of terrorism, was shot and wounded by the police on Tuesday morning after an overnight manhunt, Belgium’s interior minister said.
The suspect, a man whose name was not released, was in a hospital in critical condition, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden told the Belgian news outlet Radio 1. A weapon was found at the scene after the man was shot, Ms. Verlinden said.
The shooting in central Brussels on Monday evening, before a scheduled soccer match between Sweden and Belgium, was described as terrorism by Prime Minister Alexander de Croo. It shocked the Belgian capital, which has a painful history of terrorist attacks. Islamic State militants carried out bombings there in 2016 that killed more than 30 people and wounded hundreds.
“I have just offered my sincere condolences to @swedishpm following tonight’s harrowing attack on Swedish citizens in Brussels,” Mr. de Croo said on X on Monday, referring to the Swedish prime minister. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends who lost their loved ones. As close partners the fight against terrorism is a joint one.”
The victims were wearing Sweden soccer shirts and may have been preparing to attend the soccer game at a stadium in northern Brussels. The game was suspended after the shooting, but several hours passed before fans at the stadium were allowed to leave.
An unverified video of the attack circulating on social media showed a man in a white helmet and a high-visibility orange jacket pursuing and shooting at his victims, who ran into a building, and then shooting them again at closer range, execution style.
Another unverified video circulating on social media, shot in selfie mode, showed a man in a jacket very similar to the one worn by the gunman in the other video, speaking in Arabic and describing himself as an adherent of the Islamic State.
“So there has been a claim via social media where someone says he is the perpetrator, that he has sympathies for IS, and what is also important, he mentions the Swedish nationality of those victims,” Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, told the Belgian broadcaster VTM.
“For now, at the current stage of the investigation, there would be no relationship to the conflict in Gaza,” Mr. Van Der Sypt added. The bloodshed in Israel and Gaza since the Hamas attack of Oct. 7 has raised concerns in many countries that sympathizers with one side or the other might carry out violent acts.
Mr. Van Der Sypt, in comments to the Belga news agency, said that a third man, a taxi driver, had been injured in the attack but was being treated in a hospital and was out of danger.
The threat level in Brussels was raised after the attack, and France has tightened controls at its border with Belgium, France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said.
While the suspect’s identity was not formally released, Belgian news outlets reported that the authorities were looking for a 45-year-old Brussels resident originally from Tunisia, and that they believed he had used a scooter to carry out his attacks.
The Belgian capital is home to the leading institutions for the European Union as well as NATO headquarters.
The European Commission, which employs thousands of people, urged employees after the attack to work from home on Tuesday, and said it would keep the schools and day care centers for staff’s children closed.
In a post on X, Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said that “the heart of Europe is hit by violence.”
After midnight, about five hours after the shootings and while the suspect was still at large, fans at the Sweden-Belgium soccer game that had been suspended for hours were being allowed to slowly leave the stadium.
Swedish fans were asked to remain and were told that the police would escort them to a secure location, people at the game said.
Koba Ryckewaert contributed reporting from Brussels, and Liam Stack from New York.