October 22, 2017

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08-Apr-17: Vehicle-ramming attack in Stockholm

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In Sweden, flags are flying at half-mast today (Saturday) to express shared grief at the killings of four people yesterday afternoon.

Around 3:00 pm Friday, a stolen beer-delivery truck driven by a masked man hurtled directly into a crowd of shoppers on Stockholm’s busiest shopping street before ploughing into the side of the Åhléns mall. The truck ignited and the driver fled on foot. The city was immediately placed on lock-down; public transport was shut down.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan was arrested after a police operation in Märsta, a suburb of Stockholm near Arlanda airport. Swedish public broadcaster SVT said a second man, linked to the first, was arrested later in the northern suburb Hjulsta.

A Reuters report from Saturday afternoon says:

“Nothing indicates that we have the wrong person, on the contrary, suspicions have strengthened as the investigation has progressed,” Dan Eliasson, head of Sweden’s national police, told a news conference on Saturday. The man, detained on Friday night on terrorism charges after the attack in the heart of the capital, appeared to have acted alone but “we still cannot rule out that more people are involved,” he said… Police did not name the detainee, but said he was from the central Asian republic of Uzbekistan and that he had seemed peripheral in intelligence reports. “We received intelligence last year, but we did not see any links to extremist circles,” Sapo security police chief Anders Thornberg said. Eliasson said there were “clear similarities” to an attack last month in London in which six people died, including the assailant who drove a hired car into pedestrians on a bridge. Vehicles have also been used as weapons in Nice and Berlin in the past year in attacks claimed by Islamic State.

Daily Mail UK, quoting Swedish media reports, says today that police investigating the attack have arrested six more suspects after three were bundled out of a car and police raided a property 12 miles from the attack scene.

The loss of life in the attack could easily have been much greater. Bomb disposal experts are reported to have found an improvised explosive device packed into a suitcase inside the hijacked beer truck. In Daily Mail’s words:

The discovery of the bomb points to a planned terror attack rather than an opportunistic attack. It is not known why the IED failed to detonate. 

This is a developing report.

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