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Suspected bomber dies in Stockholm blasts

Two people are injured in the two explosions in the Swedish capital and the apparent bomber is found fatally injured on the sidewalk nearby. An e-mail to news media threatens to take revenge for Sweden's 'war against Islam.'

December 12, 2010|Alexandra Sandels and Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
  • An image taken from video shows firefighters dousing a burning car in Stockholm. Two explosions killed a man and injured two other people in a busy shopping area in central Stockholm.
An image taken from video shows firefighters dousing a burning car in Stockholm.… (Reuters )

Reporting from Stockholm and London — A suspected suicide bomber was killed and two people were injured Saturday in blasts that rocked a popular shopping district in Stockholm, the Swedish capital.

A car parked at a crowded intersection in central Stockholm exploded about 4:50 p.m., followed by another blast a short distance away, Swedish news media reports said. At the scene of the second explosion, a witness reported finding a young man on the sidewalk with wounds to his midsection and a Palestinian kaffiyeh-style scarf tied around his face. The man, who has not been identified, later died.

Minutes before the explosions, a Swedish news agency received an e-mail that contained a call to arms to Muslim fighters and a threat to take revenge for Sweden's involvement in the war in Afghanistan and for caricatures of the prophet Muhammad by a Swedish artist. The e-mail came attached with audio files in Swedish and Arabic.

"Now your children, daughters and sisters will die just like our brothers, sisters and children are dying," the e-mail said. "Our actions will speak for themselves."

The e-mail lashed out at Swedes for their "war against Islam," for "denigrating the prophet" and for their "stupid support of the pig Vilks," a reference to the artist Lars Vilks, whose drawings of Muhammad as a dog sparked controversy in 2007.

Sweden's security police also received a copy of the e-mail, but a spokeswoman declined to comment on its content and would not confirm whether it was sent by the man who died after the second explosion.

The car that exploded had contained several gas canisters, police said. Video shows a white vehicle engulfed in flames in the late afternoon darkness.

A few minutes later, another explosion is heard nearby. A witness told Dagens Nyheter newspaper that he ran to the scene and found a badly wounded man in his 20s lying on his back on the sidewalk, with a length of pipe next to him.

"It looked as if the man had carried something that exploded on his stomach. … My first thought was that the man was a terrorist," said the witness, who identified himself only as Pascal. "His chest moved a couple of times, but I couldn't get a pulse. I removed a Palestinian scarf from his face … but it was too late."

Two people suffered minor injuries, although it was unclear from which blast.

Police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said detectives were investigating whether the two explosions were connected.

In October, Swedish authorities raised the country's terrorist threat level from low to elevated because of "a shift in activities" among homegrown militant groups, the Associated Press reported. But the security police followed up by saying that no attack was imminent.

henry.chu@latimes.com

Special correspondent Sandels reported from Stockholm and Chu from London.

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