Four dead, dozens injured following attack in Stockholm

Published April 8th, 2017 - 05:00 GMT
Emergency services work at the scene where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store at Drottninggatan in central Stockholm, April 7, 2017. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)
Emergency services work at the scene where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store at Drottninggatan in central Stockholm, April 7, 2017. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

A suspected terrorist attack in central Stockholm on Friday left four people dead and more than a dozen injured after a hijacked lorry rammed through a crowded area of pedestrians before crashing into a department store, police said.

Police said they had made one arrest in connection with the incident, with spokesman Stefan Hector saying they were "working on the assumption it was a terrorist attack."

The truck had been stolen from the Spendrups beer brewery by a masked man who jumped into the truck's cabin after the driver had stepped out, a brewery spokesman told Swedish radio.

There was no confirmation about whether the arrested suspect had driven the stolen truck.

The daily tabloid Aftonbladet reported earlier that a man with "slight injuries" had been arrested in Marsta, just north of the capital and had claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Sweden has been attacked, everything points to a terrorist attack," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said. 

"We do not know whether this was a single incident or whether there may be more incidents," senior police officer Mats Lofving said. 

Video posted on social media showed people running to avoid the lorry as it sped down Drottninggatan street at around 3 pm (1300 GMT), when the pedestrian way was brimming with afternoon shoppers and tourists. The vehicle erupted in flames when it slammed into the Ahlens department store.

Broadcast images showed panicked people trying desperately to get out of the building and off the street.

"It was horrible," one witness told Swedish television. "There was so much blood on the street, people were lying everywhere." 

"A lot of the people around me were hysterical," another witness said, wiping tears from her eyes. 

"Had I arrived there one minute later, I would have been run over. I saw people who were dead," Sandra Japundzic Lindquist told Swedish broadcaster Ekot.

Much of central Stockholm was shut down and people were instructed to avoid the area. 

The Swedish rail operator confirmed that the central train station was shut down, although some travel restrictions were starting to be lifted later in the evening. 

Most of the streets surrounding the site of the attack were shut down.

The parliament building, which lies further down the pedestrian street Drottninggatan, was in lockdown. Theatres and cinemas were also reportedly shut down.

"One of Europe's most vibrant and colourful cities appears to have been struck by those wishing it – and our very way of life – harm," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement.

"An attack on any of our member states is an attack on us all," he added.

London "stands united with Stockholm and Londoners stand with the people of Stockholm," mayor Sadiq Khan said, just over two weeks after a terrorist attack near the British parliament.

This is Europe's fourth attack in the past 12 months in which a vehicle was use to attack a crowd of civilians.

Last month, five people died in a car-and-knife rampage outside Westminster by a British-born Muslim convert Khalid Masood. 

In December, Islamic State adherent Anis Amri hijacked a lorry and drove it into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market, resulting in the deaths of 12 people. 

In July, 86 died in Nice, France, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a lorry through a crowded promenade of people celebrating the country's national holiday. 

© 2021 dpa GmbH

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