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Stockholm Police Seek Driver After Truck Attack Kills Three

RFE/RL April 07, 2017

Swedish police were searching for the driver of a beer truck that was driven into a crowded department store in central Stockholm, killing at least three people and injuring eight, in a suspected terror attack.

Police released a photo from a surveillance camera near the scene of April 7 attack that showed a man wearing a white sweater, a dark hoodie, and a green military jacket.

Police also said they were questioning two people in connection with the attack but cautioned that they were not necessarily suspects.

Swedish authorities said the investigation was in the "preliminary" stages and that they had no details about the attacker or attackers and that no one was in custody.

The Swedish capital was reeling after the deadly attack on the Ahlens department store in the Stockholm city center. Authorities were treating it as a terrorist attack.

"Sweden has been attacked. This indicates that it is an act of terror," Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

Police also said it appeared to be an act of terror. "Given what has happened in other parts of Europe, we cannot currently exclude that this is a terrorist crime," a police statement said..

The Aftonbladet newspaper quoted a spokesman for the Spendrups brewing company as saying the truck involved in the incident had been stolen while the driver was unloading goods during a delivery earlier in the day. The company said the driver was safe.

A witness told Aftonbladet that the truck came "out of nowhere."

"I couldn't see if anyone was driving, but it was out of control. I saw at least two people get run down. I ran as fast as I could away from there," he said.

Television footage showed smoke coming out of the upscale Ahlens department store on the city's pedestrian street Drottninggatan after the truck smashed into the store at about 3 p.m. local time.

Police have not released an official casualty toll, but multiple reports say at least three people were killed and eight injured.

"I saw at least three dead, but probably more," Radio Sweden reporter Martin Svenningsen said.

Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported at least five people were killed, but that could not immediately be confirmed.Reuters reported eight people were injured.

Police asked locals to avoid the center of the city and shut down the city's subway system for several hours. It was later reopened.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of the nearby central train station, although they did not say why. Officials of national rail company SJ said all trains to and from Stockholm's central station would be canceled for the rest of the day as a result of the attack in the city.

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf said the royal family viewed the attack "with dismay."

"We follow developments, but as of now our thoughts go to the victims and their families," he said.

International Reaction

Among the early reactions from abroad, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a statement saying: "Our thoughts go out to the people in Stockholm, to the injured, their relatives, rescuers and police. We stand together against terror."

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union's chief executive, said, ""We stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the people of Sweden."

"One of Europe's most vibrant and colorful cities appears to have been struck by those wishing it – and our very way of life – harm," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country on April 3 suffered its own terrorist attack when 13 people were killed by a suspected suicide bomber in St. Petersburg's subway system, sent a note of condolences to the Swedish king.

"In our country, people know, and not by hearsay, about the atrocities of international terrorism. At this difficult time, Russians mourn together with the people of Sweden," Putin said.

Sweden's Scandinavian neighbors reacted by increasing security in public areas.

Norwegian police said officers at the Oslo airport and in in the country's major citieswould be carrying weapons until further notice following the Stockholm attack. Norwegian police normally do not carry weapons.

In Finland, police in the capital, Helsinki, said they were increasing patrols.

There have been several recent terrorist attacks involving vehicles ramming crowds in Europe, all of them claimed by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization.

Five people died as a result of a knife-and-vehicle attack in London on March 22.

On December 19, 12 people were killed and 48 injured when a truck was driven into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin.

In July 2016, 86 people were killed when a truck slammed into crowds in the French city of Nice.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, AFP, the BBC, and Reuters

Source: http://www.rferl.org/a/vehicle-crowd- swedish-capital/28416610.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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