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Swedish police probe ‘terror attack’ after axe-wielding man injures eight

The suspect was shot in the leg by police when he was taken into custody.

Image: Mikael Fritzon/TT

Updated Mar 3rd 2021, 9:15 PM

A MAN ARMED with an axe has injured eight people in a town in southern Sweden before being shot and arrested.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said a possible terrorist motive was being investigated.

“In the light of what has emerged so far in the police investigation, prosecutors have initiated a preliminary investigation into terrorist crimes,” he said.

Shortly after his statement, investigators at a police press conference said they had started a preliminary investigation into attempted murder with details “that make us investigate any terrorist motives”.

“But at the moment I cannot go into details,” regional police chief Malena Grann said.

Police said the man in his 20s attacked people in the small town of Vetlanda, about 118 miles south east of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. His motive was not immediately known.

The man was shot by police, who said the condition of those attacked and of the perpetrator was not immediately known. Officials did not provide details on the identity of the suspect, who was taken to hospital.

Local police chief Jonas Lindell said “it seems that the injuries are not life-threatening” but could not give further details, but police said they believed they would be able to question him.

The events took place in central Vetlanda with police saying they got calls just after 2pm about a man assaulting people with an axe. Police said that there are five crime scenes in the town of roughly 13,000.

Lofven condemned “this terrible act” and added that Sweden’s domestic security agency SAPO was also working on the case.

”They continuously assess whether there are reasons to take security-enhancing measures and are prepared to do so if necessary,” he said.

Local resident Olivia Strandberg told broadcaster SVT she didn’t see the actual attack but witnessed the man being taken away, from her window just as she returned home from work.

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“I had just gotten to my apartment when my best friend wrote to me and said: Don’t go out!” Strandberg said, with the broadcaster showing footage of the suspect being taken away in an ambulance on a quiet street.

Swedish intelligence services consider the terrorist threat to be high. 

The Scandinavian country has been targeted twice by attacks in recent years.

In December 2010, a man carried out a suicide bomb attack in the centre of Stockholm. He was killed after only slightly injuring passers-by. 

In April 2017, a rejected and radicalised Uzbek asylum seeker mowed down pedestrians in Stockholm with a stolen truck, killing five people. He was sentenced to life in prison.

With reporting from AFP

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