Authorities in Sweden have arrested a man for a “terrorist crime”, hours after a beer truck ploughed into a crowd outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing four.
Swedish prosecutors said a man detained in connection with a truck attack in the capital had been arrested on the strongest degree of suspicion of committing a terror crime.
“One person has been arrested on suspicion of terrorist crimes through murder,” Karin Rosander, press spokesperson at the prosecutors office told Reuters.
Swedish police earlier arrested a man in north Stockholm, who confessed to carrying out a deadly truck attack in the centre of the city on Friday, according to local reports.
The person of interest reportedly resembled the picture and description of a man police went public with after the attack.
Police also confirmed they were questioning two individuals about the attack, but stressed they were not suspects.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who cut short a visit in southwestern Sweden to return to Stockholm, said he had strengthened the country’s border controls.
Read: Full statement by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven
“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,” he said.
An Australian tourist has described witnessing a stolen truck ploughing through a crowd into a department store in central Stockholm, killing four people and wounding 15, in what appears to be a terror attack.
Filmen visar när fredagslugnet i centrala Stockholm förbyts mot panik – när lastbilen vansinneskör på Drottninggatan. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/qGTcOwJUi7
— Expressen (@Expressen) April 7, 2017
“I turned around and saw a big truck coming towards me. It swerved from side to side. It didn’t look out of control, it was trying to hit people,” Glen Foran, an Australian tourist in his 40s, told Reuters after Friday’s attack.
“It hit people, it was terrible. It hit a pram with a kid in it, demolished it,” he said.
VIDEO: Smoke rises after truck crashes into Stockholm department store 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/GB9u74vgNx pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/jhEaR4hAqA
— RT (@RT_com) April 7, 2017
If confirmed as a terror attack, it would be Sweden’s first such attack with a deadly outcome.
Pictures taken at the scene showed a large blue truck with a mangled undercarriage smashed into the Ahlens department store.
Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic.
One witness identified only as Dimitris told the Aftonbladet daily 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.
JUST IN: Video shows pedestrians flee the scene of vehicle incident in Stockholm, Sweden. Latest updates: 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/aEMiyhdt2h pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/KH4kQroYL7
— CNN International (@cnni) April 7, 2017’Like a bomb’
Another shopper, 66-year-old Leander 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 daily Aftonbladet.
He and fellow shoppers took refuge in a storage room 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.
Video footage taken from above showed scores of people streaming down the street in terror.
Members of the emergency services attend the scene after a truck crashed into a department storeTT News Agency via AP
A spokeswoman for beer company Spendrups told AFP that the truck involved “had been stolen during a delivery to a restaurant.”
The man arrested in a suburb north of Stockholm was detained after his appearance matched that of a man in a picture released by police and wanted in connection with the attack.
Friday’s attack was the latest in a string of similar assaults with vehicles in Europe, including in London, Berlin and the southern French city of Nice.
— Johnny Chadda (@johnnychadda) April 7, 2017’Attack on us all’
The attack 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 billowed from the scene, while the area was blocked off by police and crowds gathered 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 stores quickly emptied of shoppers.
The #EiffelTower goes dark in support of the victims of the #StockholmAttack pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/n8v8EXS5CN
— Simon Cullen (@Simon_Cullen) April 7, 2017
The Stockholm metro was also completely shut down for several hours before resuming in the early evening, with the attack taking place at the city’s T-Centralen station, through which all the city’s lines pass.
Cinemas, shopping malls and other public buildings were also evacuated.
The area around the attack was cordoned off, but other streets in the city were packed for hours with pedestrians trying to find a way home.
At least four people were killed when a truck crashed into department store Ahlens on Drottninggatan, in central Stockholm, Friday April 7 2017. (AAP)TT NEWS AGENCY
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.
Another section of Drottninggatan was also the scene of Sweden’s only other terror attack, in 2010, when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing himself and slightly injuring several others.
European politicians expressed solidarity, 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.”
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says the incident is likely ‘a terror attack’AAP
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner offered condolences and said Washington was ready to provide any help it could to investigate “this brutal and senseless attack”.
“Attacks like this are intended to sow the seeds of fear, but in fact they only strengthen our shared resolve to combat terrorism around the world,” he added.
Trucks as weapons
The attack followed a string of similar massacres in Europe by people using vehicles as weapons.
The deadliest 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.
Last month, Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old convert to Islam known to British security services, killed five people when he 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.
And in December, a man hijacked a truck and slammed into shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.
In 2014, IS called for attacks on citizens of Western countries and gave instructions on how they could be carried out without military equipment, using rocks or knives, or by running people over in vehicles.