Swedish premier calls for calm after fatal suicide bomb attack
SWEDISH PRIME minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has appealed for calm and asked people not to draw too hasty conclusions after Saturday’s suicide bomb attack in the centre of Stockholm.
Police searched the bomber’s home in a small town 200 miles southwest of Stockholm yesterday in a bid to uncover more information surrounding the attack.
The bomber was the only fatality in the two explosions which took place on a busy shopping street in the Swedish capital on Saturday. The attack took place at about 5pm, at the height of the Christmas shopping rush.
A car, believed to be owned by the bomber, exploded on a nearby street just 10 minutes before he died in the second blast. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a man bleeding from the abdomen. The bomb appeared to be strapped to his stomach.
According to the Swedish Aftonbladetnewspaper, five other pipe bombs were found beside the man, as well as a bag which was packed with nails and explosive material.
Weapons experts have suggested that the death toll could have been much greater if all the bombs had exploded. They have also indicated that it was unlikely the bomber had support from an organisation given the failed and somewhat “amateur” nature of the attack. The Swedish security services has labelled the incident a terrorist act and admitted they may have “missed something” in their anti-terrorist work.
Just 20 minutes before the car explosion and subsequent suicide bomb, a message was sent in Arabic and Swedish to the TT news agency.
It read “thanks to Lars Vilks and his drawings of the prophet Mohammed and to your soldiers in Afghanistan and your silence surrounding it all, your children, daughters, brothers and sisters shall die like our brothers, sisters and children die . . . until you finish your war against Islam and humiliation of the prophet and your stupid support for the pig Vilks”.
The message went on to encourage other Muslims in Sweden and Europe to attack with whatever they had “even if is only a knife . . . Do not fear anything. Do not fear prison. Do not fear death,” the message read.
The controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks has received several death threats in recent months and throughout the past three years after he published drawing of the prophet Muhammad in which the prophet’s face was replaced with that of a dog.
Vilks’s home came under an arson attack earlier this year. The Swedish security services have given no indication of any links between previous attacks or threats on Vilks and Saturday’s suicide bomb.
A number of Swedish media are reporting that the bomber is a 28-year-old Swedish citizen with a foreign background. The influential Svenska Dagbladetnewspaper claims that on a Muslim website for personal ads, the man had claimed that he was living in Luton, England, was born in Baghdad but went to Sweden in 1992. He described himself as being married with two children but seeking another wife to have more children. He also claimed to be very religious and could consider moving to an Arabic country.
Mr Reinfeldt described the incident as unacceptable and nothing that an open society could allow. “People should be able to live side by side,” he said, adding that speculating about Saturday’s events are unlikely to help anyone.
In October, Sweden raised its security level regarding a possible terrorist threat but the security services say they will not be increasing that level further for the time being. They said they saw no direct link between Saturday’s attacks and their rationale behind raising security levels in October.