Belgian police on Tuesday shot and wounded a 45-year-old Tunisian suspected of killing two Swedes heading to a football match in Brussels on Monday, RTBF radio said on its website.
Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said earlier the wounded man was suspected of being the gunman. RTBF said he was shot in a cafe.
Two Swedish nationals were shot dead and a third person was wounded in central Brussels on Monday night and a man who identified himself as a member of the Islamic State claimed responsibility in a video posted online.
The suspect fled the scene after the shooting as a football match between Belgium and Sweden was about to start, triggering a massive manhunt and prompting Belgium to raise its terror alert to the highest level.
“The weapon with which the attacks were committed has been found this morning where the man was apprehended in (the Brussels borough of) Schaerbeek. That makes the likelihood that the perpetrator has been caught bigger,” Verlinden told VRT broadcaster.
“We are checking fingerprints to be 100% sure.”
She said the man was in intensive care in hospital.
Federal prosecutors said they could not yet confirm the identity of the person shot but the Belgian capital’s mayor Philippe Close told BFM TV: “It seems indeed the suspect has been neutralised.”
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called Monday’s shooting a brutal “terrorist attack”.
“Last night three people left for what was supposed to be a wonderful soccer party. Two of them lost their lives in a brutal terrorist attack,” De Croo told a news conference.
“The perpetrator targeted specifically Swedish supporters who were in Brussels to attend a Red Devils soccer match. Two Swedish compatriots passed away. A third person is recovering from severe injures,” de Croo said.
Belgium was hosting Sweden in a Euro 2024 qualifying match on Monday evening. The match was abandoned at halftime.
The country has raised the security alert status of its capital city to the highest level, with increased police presence, particularly for Swedish people and institutions, and warned the public to be extra vigilant and avoid unnecessary travel.
A man who identified himself as a member of Islamic State claimed responsibility in a video posted online.
The attacker, who unsuccessfully sought asylum in Belgium in November 2019, was known to police in connection with people smuggling and illegal residence, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne told a news conference.
Sweden’s Sapo security police, who in August raised their terrorism alert to the second-highest level and warned of an increase in threats against Swedes at home and abroad, said they were in contact with their international counterparts.
“We are in a serious situation … Sweden has (over time) ended up in an increasingly clear focus of violent Islamist extremism,” a Sapo spokesperson said in a statement.
The suspected gunman, calling himself Abdesalem Al Guilani, claimed in a video on social media that he was a fighter for Allah.
The shooting comes at a time of heightened security concerns in some European countries linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict, though a Belgian federal prosecutor said there was no evidence that the attacker had any link to the recent renewed conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.
Video footage of the Brussels 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 first firing five shots, then following people fleeing into a building before firing again.
According to a media transcript of the video message recorded by the self-declared perpetrator, he said he had killed Swedes to take revenge in the name of Muslims.