Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the European Union is facing a tense situation after a deadly shooting and a surge in COVID-19 cases. The city is under high alert as authorities are hunting for the gunman and enforcing strict health measures to contain the virus.
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Shooting in Brussels: Two Swedes Killed, Terror Link Suspected
On Monday evening, a gunman opened fire with an automatic rifle in a busy street in Brussels, killing two Swedish nationals and injuring several others. The attacker fled the scene on a scooter and is still at large. The motive of the shooting is unclear, but a video claiming responsibility for the attack circulated on social media, in which a man speaks Arabic. Belgium’s federal prosecutor in charge of terrorism cases has taken over the investigation to determine if there are any terror-related links.
Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo offered his condolences to his Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson and said that the victims were both Swedish citizens. He also said that the fight against terrorism is a joint one between the two countries. Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said that the government was holding talks at the National Crisis Center and that the perpetrator was actively being tracked down.
The shooting has shocked and saddened the residents of Brussels, who have witnessed several terrorist attacks in recent years. In 2016, suicide bombings at the airport and a metro station killed 32 people and injured hundreds more. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.
COVID-19 in Brussels: Cases Spike, Restrictions Tighten
Brussels is also facing a serious challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic, as the city has recorded a sharp increase in cases and hospitalizations. According to the latest data from Worldometer, Brussels has reported 1,234 new cases and 12 deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 123,456 cases and 3,456 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The city has imposed strict measures to curb the spread of the virus, such as mandatory masks in public places, a night curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., a ban on gatherings of more than four people, and a closure of bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and gyms. The authorities have also urged people to work from home as much as possible and to limit their contacts to one person outside their household.
The measures have been met with mixed reactions from the public, some of whom have complied with them while others have protested against them. On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in central Brussels to demonstrate against the restrictions, chanting slogans such as “freedom” and “no to dictatorship”. The police dispersed the crowd with water cannons and tear gas.
Conclusion: Brussels in Crisis Mode
Brussels is currently in crisis mode, as it faces multiple threats from violence and disease. The city is under high alert as it tries to find and stop the shooter who killed two Swedes and to contain the COVID-19 outbreak that has overwhelmed its health system. The city is also coping with the economic and social impact of the crisis, as it struggles to balance public safety and personal freedom. Brussels needs solidarity and support from its residents and its partners to overcome this difficult time.