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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, October 23, 2017

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Stockholm attack: Borders tightened and security boosted, one suspect arrested, dozens injured still recovering

Four people dead and 15 others injured,

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A day after a truck rammed into a crowd outside a busy store in central Stockholm, the Swedish police have said that the suspect that was arrested hours after the attack, could be the driver of the truck. >BNN

Central Stockholm’s busy shopping center area witnessed scenes of chaos on Friday after a truck ran over a crowd, leaving four people dead and 15 others injured, including one child.

The incident occurred on a busy intersection on Drottninggatan (Queen Street), which is one of central Stockholm’s major pedestrian streets and after driving into the crowds, the vehicle crashed into Ahlens Mall. 

Soon after the incident was reported, dozens of armed police officers rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area. 

The public subway system was subsequently stopped, while several roads were closed.

The Swedish police and security services that had been probing the incident as a suspected terrorist attack arrested a man hours later and identified that the vehicle was a stolen beer delivery truck.  

Authorities had released a photo of a man on Friday evening, who they said was wanted in connection with the crash.

Two people had been questioned the same evening, however, the police did not identify them as suspects. 

Police later said that they had detained the man who “matched the description” of a photo released of a suspect wearing a dark hoodie and military green jacket.

A Swedish prosecutor confirmed on Saturday that the suspect is “likely” the driver of the truck that rammed people and then crashed into an upscale department store. 

Karin Rosander, a communications director at the Swedish Prosecution Authority said, the man was arrested “on suspicion of a terrorist crime through murder.”

Reports noted that the department store where the truck crashed into the building is a few blocks from the site of a 2010 bombing in Stockholm, the most recent terrorist attack in the country. 

Prosecutor Hans Ihrman said the man should have a pre-trial hearing on whether he will remain in custody before the middle of the day Tuesday or be released.

A report in the Aftonbladet newspaper said that the man who has been arrested is a 39-year-old of Uzbek origin and a supporter of Daesh.

Six of the injured people were released, while the others are still recovering in the Karolinska hospital.

The government said that flags will be flown at half mast at government offices on Saturday, starting at 8 am.

Further, Sweden’s biggest broadsheet Dagens Nyheter ran an editorial that said, “What we feared for a long time finally happened. The fear and panic right after the incident was inevitable. The images from the attack were terrible. But Stockholm managed to stay “cool-headed” even though the attacker struck “Sweden and Stockholm’s heart.”

In a statement posted on the government’s website, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said, “This is a day of mourning for Sweden. The attack targeted our society at its most vulnerable — when we are going about our daily lives. Our thoughts go to those affected and to their families.”

Lofven further added, “Terrorists want us to be afraid, want us to change our behaviour, want us to not live our lives normally, but that is what we’re going to do. So terrorists can never defeat Sweden, never.”

The Prime Minister also said that he had strengthened the country’s border controls.

Experts were quick to note that the modus operandi used in the incident was similar to previous attacks in Europe. 

In July 2016, a truck rammed into a crowd at a waterfront promenade in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people. 

The driver, identified as Mohamed Lahouiaej Bouhlel was killed by the police and the Islamic State terror group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Then, in December last year, Germany witnessed a similar attack claimed by ISIS, after a lorry mowed into a packed Christmas market, killing 12 people in Berlin. 

More recently, in London, a man, identified as Khalid Masood, who has been linked to radical Islam crashed a rented SUV into a crowd on Westminster Bridge.

He then attacked a police officer on the grounds of Parliament. 

Five people were killed in the attack and dozens of other people were injured. Masood was killed by security forces. 

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