Wednesday 10/20/21

Swedish police seek motive for stabbing rampage where 7 were injured

The suspect was a 22-year-old from Afghanistan. He had temporary residency, and was sentenced for a minor drugs offence in 2019.
A Swedish police officer. Photo: Pixabay.
A Swedish police officer. Photo: Pixabay.

Swedish authorities said on Thursday a man suspected of a stabbing rampage in southern Sweden has been detained on suspicion of seven cases of attempted murder, but they have not established a motive.

The incident that took place in the small southern town of Vetlanda on Wednesdsay is "classified as attempted murder," Malena Grann of the regional police force told a press conference.

"We are investigating whether there may be any terrorist motives. The motive is an important part of the probe since it can affect how the crime is labelled," she added.

Carina Lennquist, deputy regional police chief, said the attacks on Wednesday were stopped after police shot the suspect in the leg.

The suspect was armed with a knife at the time of his arrest, said Jonas Lindell of the local police.

Lindell added that the suspect was a 22-year-old from Afghanistan. His flat has been searched, and items have been seized.

The suspect was briefly informed of the suspicions against him, but police did not comment if he had made any statement.

Pre-trial detention

Prosecutor Adam Rullman, who was not present at Thursday's press conference, said he would request the suspect be remanded at a pre-trial detention hearing, possibly on Friday.

Rullman earlier told public broadcaster SVT that the probe was at an early stage, but at present the incident was not being investigated as a suspected terrorist crime. 

Lennquist said police were cooperating with the Swedish security service Sapo, other Swedish police districts as well as with Europol and other countries. 

Swedish daily Exprssen, Swedish Radio and public broadcaster SVT reported that the suspect came to Sweden in 2016 and moved to Vetlanda a year ago. He had temporary residency, and was sentenced for a minor drugs offence in 2019.

All seven victims in Wednesday's attacks were male, and born between 1945 and 1985. "It appeared they were random targets," Lindell said.

Victims stable

"All patients are currently stable," Martin Takac of the local health authorities told reporters. Three of the seven had initially been labelled as in life-threatening condition.

Henrik Tvarno, head of the local council in Vetlanda, said the town was "in shock... there are so many questions that need answering. It's a nightmare for the next of kin."

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg were among leading the politicians who have condemned the incident.

They also lauded the police and emergency responders and others who assisted the victims, and Lofven underlined that attacks on innocent people would not go unpunished.

Damberg noted that the national terror alert level remained at the third highest stage on its five-point scale.