Nicosia condemns deadly Brussels terrorist attack

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Cyprus has strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Brussels that resulted in two Swedish nationals being shot dead.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on X that “Cyprus strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Brussels, with the tragic loss of life of two Swedish citizens”, expressing its condolences to the victims’ families.

“The EU stands united in the fight against terror. Hate has no place in our common European values,” it said.

A Tunisian gunman suspected of killing two Swedish football fans in Brussels died on Tuesday after being shot by police in a cafe, while Sweden’s prime minister said Europe must bolster security to protect itself.

The 45-year-old attacker, who identified himself as a member of Islamic State and claimed responsibility in a video posted online, is also suspected of wounding another Swedish national in central Brussels on Monday night.

“These terrorists want to scare us into obedience and silence. That will not happen,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a news conference in Stockholm.

“This is a time for more security; we can’t be naive,” Kristersson said, adding that Sweden and the European Union needed to protect their borders.

The shooting came 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 renewed conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.

In August, Sweden raised its terrorism alert to the second-highest level and warned of increased threats against Swedes at home and abroad after Koran burnings outraged Muslims and triggered threats from jihadists.

Video footage of the 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 firing five shots, then following people fleeing into a building before firing again.

The suspect, who unsuccessfully sought asylum in Belgium in November 2019 and was living in the country illegally, was known to Belgian police in connection with people smuggling, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said.

The gunman 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 the terrorism alert in its capital to its highest level.