Driver in Stockholm lorry attack is Uzbeki man known to police

Swedish police also said a bomb or incendiary device was found in the cab of the stolen lorry.

Police officers guard on April 8, 2017 at the site where a stolen truck was driven through a crowd and crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm the day before. Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP
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Stockholm // The man who drove a lorry into pedestrians in Stockholm on Friday, killing four and injuring 15, is a 39-year-old from Uzbekistan who was known to the authorities, Swedish officials said.

Intelligence agency chief Anders Thornberg said the man “has appeared in our intelligence gathering in the past”, but had no previous links to extremism.

Police chief Dan Eliasson said authorities were confident they had arrested the right person.

“There is nothing to indicate that we’ve got the wrong man. On the contrary, the suspicions have strengthened,” he said.

The man was arrested in Marsta, a suburb north of Stockholm, hours after he rammed a stolen delivery lorry into crowds on the bustling Drottninggatan pedestrian street on Friday afternoon.

Police said they had found a suspect device in the cab of the lorry that could be “a bomb or an incendiary object”.

“A technical examination is ongoing, we can’t go into what it is right now,” Mr Eliasson said.

The intelligence agency Sapo said it was hunting for “possible accomplices or networks” that may have been involved in the attack.

Ten of the 15 people injured in the attack were still in hospital on Saturday, including a child, health authorities said.

Officials have yet to identify the victims. One Romanian woman was among the injured, Romania’s foreign ministry said.

The attack came just two weeks after a man drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London before stabbing a policeman outside the houses of parliament. The policeman and four other people died and the attacker was shot dead at the scene.

The extremist group ISIL claimed responsibility for the London attack, as well as similar attacks using vehicles in Berlin and Nice last year.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the Stockholm attack so far, but the lorry’s driver appears to have been an ISIL supporter.

“His Facebook page shows sympathies to ISIL,” said Magnus Ranstorp, the head of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College.

Pierre Svensson, who said he employed the man through a contractor for several weeks on an asbestos removal project in Stockholm late last year, described him as a reserved person.

“He didn’t stick out. He did his job. You can’t say he was very sociable, we just told him what to do and he did it. He didn’t speak much Swedish,” he said.

Mr Ranstorp said an attack on Stockholm had been just a matter of time.

“It was pretty expected, the police and intelligence agency have practised for this several times the past year,” he said.

“We just didn’t know when it was going to happen.”

Flags flew at half-mast across Stockholm as the city slowly returned to normal on Saturday – apart from a heavy police presence, a rare scene in this normally tranquil country.

Residents tried to come to terms with the violence that had struck a city that prides itself on its openness and tolerance.

“Just sad I think, sad and mad. Really angry with the people who did this,” said Torvald, 51.

“Unfortunately you get almost used to these situations,” said Michael. “It’s like in July 2016 [the Nice attack]. I was very shocked and now, well, now again. Another attack.”

Prime minister Stefan Lofven, who has tightened border controls, announced that Sweden would hold a minute’s silence on Monday in memory of the victims.

Throughout Saturday, crowds milled behind the security barrier erected around the scene of the attack, many placing flowers by the fence.

A police car parked nearby was covered in flowers, as Swedes praised the emergency crews’ quick response to the attack.

King Carl XVI Gustaf, who returned to Stockholm on Saturday after cutting short a visit to Brazil, gave an address to the nation outside the palace.

“The consideration people are showing each other shows the strength of our society,” he said.

“There are so many of us who want to help, many more than those who want to hurt us.”

A peaceful demonstration was planned for Sunday in central Stockholm, near the scene of the attack.

* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press