Terrorism expert: "Bomber not alone?"
Swedish terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp from the Swedish National Defence College says he doesn't think the suspected terrorist was working alone.
Speaking to Swedish Television news, Ranstorp says the blasts were too complicated to have been planned and executed alone. Tabloid reports that a car bomb as well as pipe bombs were used, a backpack full of nails was found next to the body, and that a warning message was sent to a news agency and Sweden's Intelligence Service in both Swedish and Arabic, indicate that the plans were more complex than originally thought.
"This isn't something someone does in their living room and plans completely alone", Ranstorp told SVT, "but whether the others are in Sweden or abroad is another matter" he adds.
"If it's true that he had a backpack full of nails which was supposed to explode and cause maximal damage, and he was moving towards areas where people were doing their Christmas shopping, it could have caused an enormous massacre if he had succeeded. But a lot went wrong."
Mer från Radio Sweden
The Swedish meteorological office has issued a so-called class 2 warning for the south-east of the country, which means the weather poses a threat to the general public, with impassable roads and significant damage to buildings and other infrastructure.
In many areas, emergency and social services can only reach the elderly and others in need using civil defence vehicles with caterpillar tires.
After a day in which thousands were stranded and delayed for hours due to train cancellations, the travel situation is slowing improving, according to the Swedish Transport Administration.
Trains are moving in most parts of the country with the exception of the south where are still some line closures and long delays. Heavy snow and snow drifts over night have caused chaos on the roads in the south of the country and the roads authority has issued a warning to travellers to leave their cars at home as some minor roads may be impassable.
A royal guard at Stockholm Castle was attacked and robbed of his AK5 assault rifle in the early hours of Christmas Eve by two thieves dressed as Santa Claus.
The guard was not seriously injured but the thieves escaped with the loaded weapon, leaving few leads for the police to follow.
“They ran from the scene and then got away in a car,” duty officer Kennet Andersson at Normalms police station, told news agency TT.
The castle guards are allowed to use force to defend themselves and protect the castle, said Lieutenant Colonel Beck-Friis Häll, adding that the incident is extremely unusual.
“I don’t know what force the thieves used or whether they used threats – but a weapon is the last thing you let go of,” he said.
The Swedish branch of the International Red Cross lost 30,000 members over the last year.
Although the Red Cross has been steadily losing members in Sweden over the last decade, the sharp fall in support this year follows an embezzlement scandal and a public outcry over generous payments to the aid organisation’s chairman.
“I think it’s natural that this happens when an organisation built on trust does something to damage that trust. People become outraged and want to make a point,” Ulrika Årehed Kågström, the group’s general secretary, told Swedish Radio News.
“It will take a very long time to build that trust back up. Flashy brochures or marketing campaigns won’t make any difference. We’ll have to do it gradually, by showing that we are doing the right things to help people in need.”
As Swedes sit down to their Christmas dinner today, many will be reaching for the salt seller. However they should think twice, say two Swedish health experts writing in Dagens Nyheter today.
Average salt consumption in this country is two to three times higher than the safety limits recommended by the World Health Organisation, according to Professors Mattias Aurell, at Gothenburg University and A Erik G Persson at Uppsala University.
They say this is leading to growing health problems including high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.
“If we lower our salt consumption by just three grams per day, we can reduce the numbers dying of these diseases by 20 or 30 percent,” they write, adding that processed food is the biggest culprit, account for about 80 percent of most people’s salt intake.
They argue that the problem is being ignored by health authorities here as it’s seen as too controversial and too much of an infringement into people’s lifestyles.
Kungträdgården underground train station, in the heart of the capital’s financial district, was closed on Thursday night when a suspect package, designed to look like a bomb, was discovered on the train platform.
Bomb disposal experts were called to the station at 10 pm and declared the package to be hoax three hours later. The package resembled a milk carton, with wires and circuitry around it, but contained no explosives.
“This is a really tasteless joke intended to scare people,” Henrik Billstam, from Stockholm County’s emergency services told Radio Stockholm.
The head of information at Visit Sweden says the traditional image of Sweden as an innocent country with apple-cheeked children and beautiful nature is under threat.
Bo Söderström says when you read British, American, French, and Spanish-language newspapers now they are reporting that Sweden is like other countries, exposed to terrorism and violence. Recent events like the entry of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats into the Swedish parliament, the shootings of immigrants in Malmö, the Stockholm suicide bomber, the sex charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the accompanying criticism of the Swedish legal system, are damaging the image.
But, Söderström tells the TT news agency, basically the country has a good reputation.
The cold weather has apparently also led to a shortage of a favorite holiday beverage, hot mulled wine, or glögg.
Supplies of glögg have run out at many state liquor stores, as Swedes buy more glögg than usual to keep warm during the unusually cold weather.
On Wednesday many shops were sold out, and even though they could restock for Thursday, Lennart Agén, head of information for the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly, says there’s a risk they will run out again during the day.
Swedish wildlife authorities are rejecting the storm of criticism both here at home and from abroad over the decision to permit the shooting of 20 wolves this winter.
The critics argue that with only some 200 wolves in this forested nation, this is fewer than some other European countries and not enough to make the Swedish wolf survive.