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4 killed in Sweden terrorist attack

Saturday, Apr 8, 2017,8:31 IST By joji A A A

Stockholm | A hijacked beer truck plowed into pedestrians at a central Stockholm department store, killing four people, wounding 15 others and sending screaming shoppers fleeing in panic in what Sweden’s prime minister called a terrorist attack.
A nationwide manhunt was launched and one person was arrested today following the latest use of a vehicle as a weapon in Europe.
Nearby buildings were locked down for hours in the heart of the capital including the country’s parliament and the main train station and several large malls were evacuated.
“Sweden has been attacked,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in a nationally televised press conference. “This indicates that it is an act of terror.”
Later last night, Lofven laid a bouquet of red roses and lit a candle near the site of the attack. Officials announced flags at government offices would fly at half-mast today to honor the victims.
“The country is in a state of shock,” he said. “The aim of terrorism is to undermine democracy. But such a goal will never be achieved in Sweden.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Police arrested a man in Marsta, a northern Stockholm suburb close to the city’s international airport, as a possible suspect.
The stolen beer truck traveled for more than 500 yards (meters) along a main pedestrian street known as the Drottninggatan before it smashed into a crowd outside the upscale Ahlens department store about 3 pm. It came to rest in the entrance to the building. TV footage showed smoke coming out of the store after the crash.
“People were screaming and running in all directions,” said Brandon Sekitto, who was in his car nearby. “(The truck) drove straight into the Ahlens entrance.” “I saw the driver, a man in black who was light around the face,” Brandon told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. “Some women were screaming, ‘Run! Run!’”
Late into the night, forensic experts in full white suits could be seen working on the truck, collecting evidence.
Although there was initial confusion on the number of victims, police told reporters in the evening that four people had been killed and 15 were wounded, nine of them seriously.
Authorities evacuated the city’s nearby Central Station, a hub for regional trains and the subway system. All trains to and from the main station were halted and several large shopping malls in Stockholm were shut down. Sweden’s national theater, Dramaten, canceled three performances yesterday evening.
Jan Evensson of the Stockholm police told a news conference that the man who was arrested looked like the person depicted wearing a greenish hood in a surveillance camera photo that police released earlier. He said police were “particularly interested” in him.
“We continue to investigate at full force,” Evensson said, urging people not to go to central Stockholm last night.
Stefan Hector of Sweden’s national police said the working hypothesis was that “this is an act of terror.” “We will be working as long as necessary” to determine who was responsible, Stockholm police spokesman Lars Bystrom told The Associated Press.
The Swedish brewery Spendrups said one of its trucks had been hijacked just a few blocks from the crash scene yesterday.
“It is one of our delivery trucks. In connection with a delivery to a restaurant called Caliente, someone jumped into the truck and drove it away while the driver was unloading his delivery,” Spendrups spokesman Marten Luth told the Swedish news agency TT.
The beer company’s truck driver was not injured, he said.
The truck crash appeared to be the latest attack in Europe using a vehicle.
In an attack last month claimed by the Islamic State group, a man drove into a crowd on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing three people and injuring many others before stabbing a policeman to death. He was shot and killed by police. A fourth person, a woman thrown into the Thames by the force of the car attack, died Thursday.

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