Belgium vs Sweden
The Group F European qualifier match between Belgium and Sweden was suspended at half-time AFP / JOHN THYS AFP News/JOHN THYS

Horrific scenes were witnessed in Brussels, Belgium on Monday evening as two football fans were shot dead just before the Euro 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden. The match was abandoned at half-time after the teams were informed about the shooting.

According to reports coming out of Brussels, two men were gunned down by a lone shooter about 45 minutes before the game started. Both victims were wearing Sweden shirts and were believed to be on their way to watch the match at the King Baudouin Stadium. The shootings took place at around 7:00 pm, and the match was later declared abandoned at half-time.

Details about the shooting continue to unfold

The shooter has been identified as a 45-year-old Tunisian man named Abdesalem Lassoued. He is believed to be in the country illegally and has already been connected to terrorist acts in Tunisia.

The shooter has been seen wearing a fluorescent orange jacket in several videos shared by witnesses on social media. The clips taken by members of the public from the Boulevard d'Ypres clearly show the man shooting at people who were running for safety towards nearby buildings.

He was using an automatic rifle, and another handgun was recovered from the scene. He shot at a Mercedes van, killing the driver and injuring the passenger. The other victim was also shot in the same vicinity but it is unclear if he and the people inside the vehicle know each other. Some video clips showed the shooter taking his time while reloading his weapon, and also while driving around the city in a moped after the shooting incident.

Unconfirmed reports are claiming that as many as five could have been killed, but the Belgian police have so far only confirmed two casualties.

Belgian police launched a terror probe and a manhunt in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and the city has raised its terror alert to the highest level.

Some reports are claiming that the man has already been arrested, but as of writing, local authorities have not confirmed any arrests.

Football fans trapped inside stadium

Despite the fact that the shooting took place before the match, the news did not spread quickly enough and the match was able to begin. However, at half-time, the players were informed about what happened. The Swedish team refused to return to the pitch to continue playing, and their Belgian counterparts agreed with the decision.

As such, the match was abandoned at 1-1, and the Belgian Federation, Swedish Federation and UEFA all made public announcements.

Belgium said: "Due to the incidents in Brussels earlier tonight, play is suspended. Our thoughts are with all those affected."

The Swedish FA added: "Our thoughts go out to all the relatives of those affected in Brussels."

UEFA confirmed the decision that was made by the teams: "Following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels this evening, it has been decided, after consultation with the two teams and the local police authorities, that the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying match between Belgium and Sweden is abandoned. Further communication will be made in due course."

The King Baudouin Stadium has a capacity of 50,000 fans, and more than 700 Swedes are believed to have been present at the match. Both the home and away supporters were advised to stay inside the stadium while security services made sure that it was safe for them to leave.

Fans were seen crying in the stands as they all checked their mobile phones for updates and assured family members about their safety. Fans also showed their solidarity with one another by chanting "Sweden" as they waited for the green light to exit.

Some of the Swedish fans also decided to remove the jerseys that they were wearing, presumably as an extra precaution to avoid being targeted.

Manhunt underway

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo offered his condolences to the victims and warned local residents to "avoid unnecessary movements".

There is a heavy police presence across the city as the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs work together to find the suspect and prevent any further attacks.