Sweden says treating explosions as terror attacks
Swedish police investigating two blasts that rocked central Stockholm on Saturday night, killing one person and wounding two, said on Sunday they had good leads into what they said were “terror crimes.”
Before the explosions, the Swedish news agency TT received a threatening letter about Sweden’s military presence in Afghanistan and caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad drawn several years ago by a Swedish cartoonist.
A senior Swedish security police official told a news conference on Sunday the blasts were being treated as “terror crimes” and police had established good leads.
Anders Thornberg, director of operations at the Security Police, said police could neither confirm that the man who died was a suicide bomber nor discuss his identity, as some family members had not yet been informed.
“We are investigating this as terror crimes according to Swedish law … we have not raised the security (threat) level,” Thornberg said, adding that the police were stepping up their presence in the capital.
The drama began when a car burst into flames near a busy shopping street in the city center, followed by explosions inside the car which police said were caused by gas canisters.
The second explosion, about 300 meters (yards) away and 10 to 15 minutes later, killed one man and wounded two people.
“Most worrying attempt at terrorist attack in crowded part of central Stockholm. Failed – but could have been truly catastrophic,” Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said in a message on Twitter, which was also shown on his blog.
Police vans cordoned off several streets around the body and towed away the car. The rest of the city center was calm, with people having a normal Saturday night out.
Several hours after the blast, the man’s body was still lying on the pavement, covered with a white sheet.
Swedish newspapers all said the dead man had blown himself up. Dagens Nyheter quoted a man called Pascal, a trained medic, as saying “It looked as if the man had been carrying something that exploded in his stomach.”
“He had no injuries to the face or body in general and the shops around were not damaged.”
The Aftonbladet quoted a source as saying the man was carrying six pipebombs, of which only one exploded, and a rucksack full of nails and suspected explosive material.
The paper quoted eyewitnesses as saying the man was shouting in what was apparently Arabic.
“We are investigating this as terror crimes according to Swedish law. We are still investigating the case. In this situation, we have not raised the security (threat) level,” Security Police official Anders Thornberg said.
Two blasts rocked the Swedish capital on Saturday in a possible attack inspired by anger over Sweden’s presence in Afghanistan. One person died and two people were injured. Local media had received an email with threats shortly before the blasts.