Stockholm attack: lorry smashes into crowd, killing four

Eight others were injured, one person has been arrested in connection with the incident

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 9:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 10:02am

A truck ploughed into a crowd on a street in central Stockholm then crashed into a department store on Friday, killing four people and wounding eight in what the prime minister said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

“There are deaths, and many injured,” Nina Odermalm Schei, a spokeswoman for Swedish intelligence agency Sapo, said.

Swedish police said they have arrested one person in connection with a deadly truck attack in central Stockholm. “One person has been arrested who may be connected with the incident,” police said in a statement.

Separately, national news agency TT said police had confirmed that four people had been killed in the attack, which also left more than a dozen injured.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

People in the downtown area fled in panic, and the country’s intelligence agency said a large number of people were injured.

“Sweden has been attacked,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said. “This indicates that it is an act of terror.”

Swedish broadcaster SVT said shots were fired at the scene, though it wasn’t clear by whom and police said they could not confirm that.

Live television footage showed smoke coming out of the upscale Ahlens department store on Drottninggatan Street, which the truck smashed into. The department store is part of Sweden-wide chain. The building includes several stores at street-level.

“We stood inside a shoe store and heard something ... and then people started to scream,” witness Jan Granroth told the Aftonbladet daily. “I looked out of the store and saw a big truck.”

Photos from the scene showed a beer truck sticking out of the department store, and Aftonbladet daily reported that Swedish beer maker Spendrups said one of its trucks “had been stolen during a restaurant delivery” earlier on Friday.

One witness identified only as Dimitris told the Aftonbladet that the truck came “out of nowhere.”

“I couldn’t see if anyone was driving but it was out of control. I saw at least two people get run down. I ran as fast as I could away from there,” he said.

Nordling, was at Ahlens when he suddenly heard a loud bang.

“It sounded like a bomb exploding and smoke starting pouring in through the main entrance,” he told Aftonbladet.

He and fellow shoppers took refuge in a supply closet inside the department store.

“After that the building was evacuated ... There were a lot of guards who took care of us outside and they urged us to leave the scene immediately,” Nordling said.

The incident occurred just before 1300 GMT at the corner of the store and Drottninggatan, the city’s biggest pedestrian street, above ground from Stockholm’s central subway station.

Thick smoke was rising from the scene, while video images showed an area blocked off by police and crowds gathering around the police cordon.

Police vans circulating in the city using loudspeakers urged people to go straight home and avoid large crowds.

The centre of the usually buzzing city was in lockdown, with the central train station evacuated and other shops quickly emptied of shoppers.

The Stockholm metro was completely shut down, with the attack taking place at the city’s T-Centralen station, through which all the city’s lines pass.

Helicopters could be heard hovering in the sky over central Stockholm, and a large number of police cars and ambulances were dispatched to the scene, witnesses said.

European politicians reacted with solidarity to the news of the attack, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying that it was an “attack on us all.”

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “Our thoughts go out to the people in Stockholm, to the injured, their relatives, rescuers and police.

“We stand together against terror.”

The attack followed a string of assaults in Europe by people using vehicles as weapons.

The deadliest attack came last year in France on the Bastille Day national holiday of July 14, when a man rammed a truck into a crowd in the Mediterranean resort of Nice, killing 86 people.

He was shot dead by police, and the Islamic State group later claimed responsibility.

Last month, Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old convert to Islam known to British security services, drove a car at high speed into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before launching a frenzied knife attack on a policeman guarding the parliament building.

The incident killed five people, while Masood himself was shot dead by police.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse