Swedish police: Bombing attack was terrorism

Sunday, December 12, 2010

STOCKHOLM - Swedish authorities Sunday officially designated a Saturday evening bombing in Stockholm, which left one dead and two injured, as a terrorist attack.

“We regard this as very serious. We are taking all precautions,” said Anders Thornberg, a police officer, during a press conference called in the wake of the attacks.

Authorities have not yet released the dead man’s identity, pending notification of relatives. There is speculation that the deceased might have been a suicide bomber whose explosives detonated prematurely.

Details of the attack remain unclear. Initially, a car exploded at the intersection of Drottninggatan and Olof Palmes Gata streets. A second blast then went off in the nearby street of Bryggargatan, where a man’s body was discovered.

One line of inquiry was that the two blasts were connected, police said.

Explosives experts were analysing a bag found near the dead man, but Thornberg declined to offer details.

The incidents have not affected the national terror alert level.

Prosecutor Thomas Lindstrand said the decision to label the incident as a terrorist attack was necessitated by the potential danger represented to many people and the attempt to “instill fear”.

Sweden’s national Security Police force announced Sunday that it would be heading the investigation. It promised a visible police presence and urged people to contact authorities with any information.

Stockholm’s police department reported that it had gathered solid forensic evidence from the blast sites, which is now being analysed along with an e-mail sent to the Security Police and news organizations 10 minutes prior to the attacks.

The e-mail said that it was time for the Swedes to die “like our brothers and sisters” and made reference to the country’s involvement in Afghanistan and an artist, Lars Vilks, who made a caricature of the prophet Mohammed in 2007.

Lindstrand said searches had been conducted at some locations but no arrests have been made, and “we don’t know if the e-mail’s reference to ‘our actions’ was a boast”.

Swedish radio news later reported that the alleged suicide bomber hailed from Tranas, southern Sweden, and his home had been searched.

Speculation about a possible link to Al Qaeda seemed unlikely as that network usually claims responsibility for an attack after the event, observers noted.

Asked if this ended Sweden’s image of innocence, Lindstrand reminded that the country has also seen the public killings of a prime minister - Olof Palme in 1986 - and foreign minister Anna Lindh in 2003.

Filed under: Terrorism

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