Sweden Hunts for Driver of Rampaging Truck That Killed 4 People
(Bloomberg) -- Swedish police extended their hunt for the driver of a hijacked beer truck that plowed through Stockholm’s main pedestrian shopping street on Friday then slammed into a store, killing at least four people in what the prime minister described as a terror attack.
Police said they detained a man who’d been near the scene of the attack and who “could have a connection” to it. They said he matched a picture distributed earlier of a man in a hooded sweatshirt who was being sought. But “this does not mean that we lower the intensity of our work,” Jan Evensson, a Stockholm police official, told reporters in the capital. Police had said earlier that they weren’t sure if one person or several people were involved.
“This was a horrible attack at the very heart of our capital,” and it’s being treated as a terrorist incident, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said late Friday at a press conference. Such attacks are intended “to make people hate or mistrust each other,” and they won’t succeed, he said.
Security was strengthened across the country in response, with border-controls imposed and much of the capital’s downtown cordoned off. In Stockholm, rail services at the central station were suspended and the subway closed. Underground services resumed later on Friday.
“We don’t know at this point whether this is an isolated incident or whether we can expect further incidents,” Mats Lofving, the police head of national operations, said at an earlier press conference.
Television images showed smoke coming from the corner department store, Ahlens, and local media showed police wearing gas masks following the incident shortly before 3 p.m. Stockholm time. Stockholm County Council said 15 adults and children are being treated at the city’s hospitals, nine of them with serious injuries.
While police didn’t give any indication of possible ideological motives for the assault, it’s a scene that’s becoming familiar in Europe.
Last month, a terrorist in London drove a car into pedestrians on a bridge before fatally stabbing a police officer outside parliament at Westminster, leaving five dead. people Last year, trucks plowed through crowds in Berlin and Nice.
Today’s violence took place just one block away from where a suicide bomber injured two people and killed himself in December 2010, an attack that’s been linked to Islamist extremism.
Sweden has also been a target of anti-immigration groups seeking to create a link between refugees and crime. The country of 10 million people received about a quarter of a million asylum seekers in recent years before restricting inflows. The influx coincided with the rise of the anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats.
In Friday’s heightened state of unease, there were reports of shootings as events were unfolding, though police said none could be substantiated.
A spokesman for the family-owned brewery Spendrups told local television that one of its drivers was making a delivery and had stepped out of the vehicle when a masked man jumped in and took the wheel. The Spendrups driver was hit by the truck and was slightly injured, according to the spokesman, Marten Lyth.