Sweden stabbing: Police still investigating possible terrorist motive after seven injured

Police in Sweden are investigating whether there was a “terrorist motive” behind a stabbing incident in Vetlanda on Wednesday.

Authorities had initially classified the attack as a “suspected terrorist crime” but have since downgraded it to a “suspected attempted murder”.

But the country’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, said terrorism was being investigated as a possible motive.

“Yesterday, a man attacked several people in Vetlanda, innocent people were injured,” Lofven added at a press conference on Thursday.

“The police were able to quickly arrest the man and several investigative measures are underway.”

What do we know about the attack?

Authorities first received reports shortly before 3 pm CET that several people had been attacked with an “axe” near Bangårdsgatan.

The first police patrols arrived at the town’s centre 10 minutes later.

Seven people were injured at several locations in central Vetlanda, a town around 190 kilometres from Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city.

One suspect, in his 20s, was shot by police at the scene and has been arrested. The authorities have declined to give any further details about the man arrested.

“The arrested person is injured but the situation is unclear,” police said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the individual was taken to hospital by ambulance.

“We should wait to comment on the perpetrator and his motives,” said Sweden’s Interior Minister Mikael Damberg on Thursday.

What do we know about those injured?

Three people suffered life-threatening injuries. Two others are seriously injured, two have moderate injuries and one has slight injuries, the Jonkoping region said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The suspected attacker is believed to be among those injured but it’s unclear at this stage how serious his condition is.

What has been the reaction?

“My thoughts go mainly to the victims and their families, but also to the police who have to deal with such difficult situations,” said National Police Chief Anders Thornberg. “We are now awaiting the investigation to see what motives and causes are behind it.”

An investigation into police action during the arrest of the suspect has also been launched.

“Due to this investigation, the police will not comment further on the arrest and why the police have opened fire,” the statement added.

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 added in a statement.

In 2017, five people were killed when a truck was hijacked and deliberately driven into pedestrians on a busy shopping street in the centre of the capital city, Stockholm.

The attack was described as “the biggest crime ever committed” in the country.

This article has been updated to reflect that seven people were injured in the stabbing. Police had stated that eight people were affected but have since confirmed that this includes the suspect.


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