Four people were injured in a mass shooting in central Brussels on Wednesday evening by a gunman who remains at large.
Authorities were dispatched to Avenue de la Toison d’Or at around 7:30 p.m. local time following reports of gunshots fired on the major shopping street in the Belgian capital.
“Our services immediately went to the scene. A perimeter was set up. We are currently making the determinations,” said Brussels police spokesperson Ilse Van de Keerse.
Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported how a group had been standing in a pedestrian zone when they were approached by a man who pulled out a gun and fired at them from close range.
As the group and passers-by fled the scene, they were chased by the gunman. Four people were injured in the attack, including three who were shot and another who broke their ankle as they sought to flee the perpetrator.
Alain Gagnaire, manager of the Couleur Café brasserie, which is located inside the Galerie Toison d’Or, told Le Soir newspaper: “In the middle of Avenue de la Toison d’Or, a man came with a gun, fired several times, followed by a panic with around twenty people coming to take refuge in the gallery, including a woman injured in the right leg, a tourist. I called the cops and they arrived in force with the firefighters.”
One of the victims is understood to be a Swedish national who works as an assistant at the European Parliament for an unnamed MEP of the Swedish Moderate Union Party (‘Moderaterna’). This was confirmed by both the party and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday evening.
One of our employees has been injured in a shooting in Brussels. Terrible,” wrote Swedish MEP Tomas Tobé on X. “The person in question is receiving care at the moment, the situation is not considered to be critical. Relatives of the person are notified,” he added.
It is unknown at this time whether the assistant’s nationality was a factor in the shooting in the same way that Swedish nationals were targeted by illegal Tunisian migrant Abdesalem Lassoued in a terror attack in the same city on Oct. 16.
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Belgian police revealed that it could not rule out terror as a motive but that they were not considering this to be the case “at this point”.
Mayor of Ixelles Christos Doulkeridis later suggested that the attack could have been drug-related. “We are more in a scenario of urban gangs,” he told local media.
In a press release, the Brussels public prosecutor’s office confirmed it had requested an investigating judge to consider charges for attempted manslaughter.
“The investigating judge will arrive on site this evening in the presence of the public prosecutor, the federal police laboratory, and the ballistics expert,” it added.
As of 2 a.m. CET, no arrests have been made.