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Terror attack in Sweden spurs stricter border checks

April 10, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australian visitors to Sweden face tighter security and stricter border control measures until at least next Monday, 17 April 2017, in the wake of the latest terrorist atrocity to hit Europe.

Four people were killed, reportedly including an 11-year-old girl on her way home from school, when a man hijacked a beer delivery truck in Stockholm and deliberately drove it into pedestrians on a busy shopping street. Another 15 people, including a child, were hospitalised.

Stockholm by night

Police said they had found a suspicious device, believed to be a homemade bomb, in the cab of the truck. The truck ended up rammed into the Ahlens department store.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) yesterday updated its advisory for Sweden. DFAT advised: “On 7 April 2017, a vehicle attack on a pedestrian street in central Stockholm resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. Swedish authorities have requested the public to continue to avoid central Stockholm around Drottninggatan due to the ongoing investigation and transport disruptions in the vicinity.

“As a result of the incident, the Swedish Government has temporarily introduced stricter border control measures that will remain in place until at least 17 April 2017. Carry your passport or a Swedish national ID card at all times. We recommend you remain vigilant, monitor media reporting and follow the advice of local authorities. The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Sweden.”

Swedish police were yesterday continuing to question a 39-year-old man, reportedly a native of the Muslim Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan and an asylum-seeker in Sweden. He is thought to have hijacked the truck. Police say his request for asylum had been denied and was he was due for deportation when he went underground. The suspect is reported to be a sympathiser with terrorist group ISIS.

Meanwhile, police in neighbouring Norway foiled an attack at the weekend when they safely defused an explosive device in central Oslo on Saturday and arrested a suspect, said to be a 17-year-old male asylum seeker and Russian citizen. He is suspected of being linked to Islamic extremism.

Police in Norway evacuated a busy nightlife street after the discovery. Following that, Norway raised the country’s national threat level.

Norwegian Police Security Service chief Benedicte Bjoernland told a news conference that the risk of an attack in coming months was now considered “probable” rather than “possible”.

The Swedish attack followed a series of similar outrages linked to Islamic extremism, in which people have used vehicles as weapons.

Last month, Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old convert to Islam, drove a car at high speed into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before leaping out and launching a frenzied knife attack on a policeman guarding Parliament. The attack killed five people, before police shot Masood dead.

The worst attack was last year in France on Bastille Day, when a man rammed a truck into a crowd in the Mediterranean resort city of Nice, killing 86 people. Police shot him dead. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

In another incident closer to Australia at the weekend, police and military officers in Indonesia exchanged fire with six suspected members of an Islamic militant group, after a failed drive-by shooting that targeted police officers in East Java. Police shot all of the suspects dead.

Written by Peter Needham

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