John Thys Agence France-Presse The police operation which made it possible to eliminate the assailant had place in the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek.
A man suspected of killing two Swedes in a street attack Monday evening in Brussels was fatally injured during a police operation Tuesday morning.
“The author of the terrorist attack in Brussels has been identified and has died”, indicated on X (ex-Twitter) the Belgian Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, who praised the work of the intelligence and security services.
< p>The suspect, actively sought since Monday evening, was a radicalized Tunisian residing illegally in Belgium, according to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo who denounced an attack of “total cowardice”.
The intervention took place in the Brussels commune of Schaerbeek, where a building had been searched during the night.
A video message of demand had been posted on social networks by a man “presenting himself as “attacker and claiming to be inspired by the Islamic State”, according to the federal prosecutor's office, responsible for terrorism cases.
“Terrorism will never win”, launched Alexander De Croo during a briefing. morning press, speaking of an attack “with weapons of war”.
The attack which cost the lives of two Swedish supporters occurred on Monday shortly after 7 p.m. near Place Sainctelette, not far from the city center, a few hours before a Euro-2024 qualifying football match between Belgium to Sweden at the Roi-Baudouin stadium.
According to the first elements, the assailant targeted them with an automatic weapon as well as a taxi driver, who was “ seriously injured, but would be out of danger”, according to the Prime Minister.
In the evening, the national crisis center was activated and the terrorist threat raised to level 4, considered “very serious”, – maximum level – in the Brussels region, to stage 3 (“serious”) in the rest of the region. country.
As a result of this increase, unprecedented in Brussels since the wave of jihadist attacks of 2015-2016, European schools and certain Flemish establishments in the capital kept their doors closed on Tuesday morning.
The suspect was presented by the media as Abdesalem L., aged 45.
Asylum request rejected
According to the Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne, he had been convicted in Tunisia “for common law offenses”, but was not reported for a terrorist risk. His request for asylum in Belgium was rejected in 2020.
The attack was condemned by several European leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron deplored an “Islamist terrorist attack.” France announced a strengthening of its border controls.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said he was “devastated” by this attack which cost the lives of two Swedish supporters.
The Belgium-Sweden match was stopped at half-time with a score of 1-1, and the approximately 30,000 spectators had to wait several hours on site as a security measure.
The stadium was gradually evacuated from 11:45 p.m., and the Swedish supporters were escorted to the airport to return to their country.
In the protest video, “the Swedish nationality of the victims is mentioned as probable motivation for the act”, specified a spokesperson for the federal prosecutor's office, Eric Van Duyse.
Sweden, whose image had deteriorated significantly this summer in the Muslim world after several desecration of the Koran authorized on its soil, decided on August 17 to raise its terrorist alert level, estimating that the threat of attacks “will persist for a long time.”
Belgium has already been the target of several attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.
The deadliest was perpetrated on March 22, 2016, when Brussels was hit by a double suicide attack at Zaventem airport and in the metro in full European district. There were 35 deaths.
This attack was committed by a jihadist cell piloted from Syria and already behind the attacks of November 13, 2015 in France (130 dead).