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Swedish police still seek motive for knife attack

Johan Ahlander and Anna Ringstrom
·2 min read

By Johan Ahlander and Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish police were still in the dark on Thursday over the motive for a knife attack in the southern town of Vetlanda which left seven people wounded and forced police to shoot a suspect.

A lone attacker went on a 15-minute rampage in the town of about 13,000 inhabitants on Wednesday afternoon, stabbing seven people. Five of the victims had to be treated in intensive care but local authorities said they all were in stable condition.

"All victims are from Vetlanda and they are all male," said Vetlanda police chief Jonas Lindell. "There is, to our knowledge, no connection between the perpetrator and the victims."

The attack is being investigated as attempted murder but police were not sure of the motive for the attack.

"We are investigating a possible terrorism motive and we are investigating it thoroughly," said Malena Grann, head of police in Jonkoping region, without offering any details.

However, Adam Rullman, prosecutor in the case, told Reuters earlier on Thursday that the prosecution authority unit handling terrorism-related cases had assessed it would not take over the investigation.

Police said the suspect was a 22-year old man from Afghanistan. He was armed with a knife when police shot him in the leg and overpowered him. He was being treated at hospital for his injuries but was conscious and had been interrogated.

Police also said the suspect's flat had been searched but could not give any details on the findings. He is previously known for minor crimes and there are no indications that anyone else was involved, police said.

"We are a community in shock," Vetlanda mayor Henrik Tvarno told a news conference. "It's a nightmare. This is incredibly tough for the relatives of the victims and for all of us."

Earlier on Thursday Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said fear would not be allowed to dictate daily life in Sweden.

"A lot is still uncertain but one thing is certain, and that is that every attack against innocents will be met by all of Sweden's united force," he said. "Anyone who harms Sweden, anyone who injures people here, will be found and brought to justice."

In April 2017, an Uzbek migrant who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group drove a truck into crowds of shoppers on a busy street in Stockholm, killing five people before crashing into a department store. He was arrested and later sentenced to life in prison.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Anna Ringstrom; additional reporting by Helena Soderpalm; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Giles Elgood)