Sweden Confirms Uzbek As Driver In Deadly Truck Attack, Device Found In Vehicle
RFE/RL April 08, 2017
Swedish authorities have said that a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan has been arrested in connection with a deadly truck attack that killed four people in central Stockholm a day earlier and that they are examining a device found in the vehicle.
Chief Prosecutor Hans Ihrman said on April 8 that the suspect was detained in a northern Stockholm suburb on April 7 after police earlier circulated a picture of a man wearing a gray hoodie in connection with the investigation into the attack on Drottninggatan using a hijacked beer truck in what Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called an "act of terror."
"We have found something in the truck, in the driver's seat, a technical device that should not be there. I cannot say at this stage that this is a bomb or some sort of flammable material," Swedish police chief Dan Eliasson told a news conference.
"Whether it is a classic bomb or a fire device or something else is subject to technical analysis," he added.
Reuters reported that a court-appointed lawyer, Johan Eriksson, met with the suspect on April 8. He declined to give further details about his client.
Anders Thornberg, head of the Swedish Security Service, said the man, whose name has not been released, had shown up last year in intelligence reports, "but we did not see any links to extremist circles."
The attack has shocked the Nordic nation of 10 million, which has little violent crime and been largely immune from any major terror incidents even as it has kept an open door for immigrants.
Generous welfare benefits helped attract more than 160,000 asylum applicants, many from Syria, in 2015, with about 55 percent of claims accepted, according to Sweden's Migration Agency. However, that began to change in 2016.
Amid growing concern over the cost of accommodating so many newcomers and public opinion showing increased hostility toward immigration, tougher rules were implemented.
Those new rules, along with lengthy processing times and the offer of payouts to migrants who voluntarily returned to their country of origin, cut the number of applications by about half in 2016.
"Those of us who want to help are many more than those who wish to harm us," King Carl Gustaf, who cut short a trip to Brazil to return home after the attack, said in a televised speech from his home at Stockholm's palace. "Sweden is, has long been, and will continue to be a safe and peaceful country."
Sweden will hold a minute of silence at noon on April 10 to mourn the victims of the attack.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which mirrors similar incidents, claimed by Islamic State, in Nice, Berlin, and London over the past year where vehicles were used as weapons.
Police said border security had been tightened and traffic on the Oresund Bridge, which links Denmark and Sweden, had been limited.
Citing police sources, Swedish broadcaster SVT reported that police had detained a second man but police declined to comment on whether they arrested any additional suspects in the attack.
"There can be other people who are associated with him, but we do not know that at the current time," Stockholm police spokesman Lars Bystrom said.
Ihrman said the suspect should face a pretrial-custody hearing before midday on April 11 or be released.
The stolen truck traveled for more than 500 meters along a main pedestrian street before it smashed into a crowd outside the upscale Ahlens department store at around 3 p.m.
Stockholm's Karolinska hospital said on April 8 that six of the 15 people wounded in the attack had been released while eight adults and one child were still in hospital.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and BBC
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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