STOCKHOLM — Swedish authorities were investigating on Thursday whether an knife attack by an Afghan man who stabbed seven men and left three of them in critical but stable condition had any links to terrorism.
The suspect, who was not named under Swedish policy rules, now faces several counts of attempted murder.
“There also was initial information in the investigation that led police to believe that they should look at terrorism as being the motive,” Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg told reporters. “It is not strange that when there are such a type of atrocity in Sweden that a connection to terrorism is also being investigated.”
Neither Damberg nor police would elaborate what that “initial information” was to prompt investigators to probe possible terrorism links.
“As for the man’s motives, this is something that will continue to be investigated,” police investigators said, adding that Sweden’s domestic security agency SAPO “continues to participate in the investigation.”
The suspect who was formally arrested on Thursday, had been waiting to see if he would be issued a residence permit, Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet wrote quoting the Swedish Migration Board. The previous residence permit expired in November, it said. The Board declined to confirm the report.
Regional police chief Malena Grann said they were in touch with the European police agency Europol and other countries. The suspect was shot in the leg and is being treated in a hospital, police said, adding that he was already undergone preliminary questioning.
The other victims of Wednesday’s assault in the small town of Vetlanda, 190 kilometers (118 miles) southeast of Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city, include three people who were critically wounded, another two who sustained moderate injuries and one who was only slightly hurt, hospital officials said..
At first police said they had received calls about a man assaulting people with an ax but later changed it to a knife.
Police say there are five crime scenes in Vetlanda, a town of 13,000. All the victims were men and police said it’s still unclear whether they were attacked at random or were connected in some way.
The suspect is known to police for petty crimes. Overnight, officers raided an apartment where he was reportedly staying.
Swedish broadcaster SVT said that the man was first registered as a resident in Sweden in 2018, and moved to Vetlanda in April.
Vetlanda mayor Henrik Tvarno said he believed the town’s inhabitants were in a state of “shock” and called the events “a nightmare.”
Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark.