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Attack stuns peaceful Swedes

STOCKHOLM - No one died except for the suspected bomber, but two explosions in Sweden's capital tore at the fabric of this tolerant and open nation, a society that hadn't seen a terrorist attack in more than three decades.

Two people were wounded in central Stockholm on Saturday in what appeared to be the first suicide bombing in the history of Sweden, which has been spared the major terrorist strikes seen in several other European countries.

A car exploded in the middle of the seasonal shopping frenzy, shooting flames and causing several smaller blasts as people ran screaming from the scene. The blast that killed the alleged bomber came moments later, a few blocks away on a busy pedestrian street.

Experts said the bomber probably didn't succeed in detonating all the explosives and could have caused much greater damage.

While police haven't confirmed the attack was motivated by Islamist views, an audio file sent to Swedish news agency TT shortly before the blast referred to jihad, Sweden's military presence in Afghanistan and a cartoon by a Swedish artist that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, enraging many Muslims.

"Now the Islamic state has been created. We now exist here in Europe and in Sweden. We are a reality," the voice said in the file, submitted to The Associated Press by TT.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt urged Swedes Sunday not to jump to "premature conclusions" that "create tension which paints pictures that are then difficult to change."

"Sweden is an open society . . . which has stated a wish that people should be able to have different backgrounds, believe in different in gods . . . and live side by side in our open society," Reinfeldt said at a news conference.

Swedes, with a tradition of welcoming immigrants and a culture of transparency, began questioning the veracity of their self-image of being a secure nation after the 1986 murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme.

In 2003, the fatal stabbing of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in an department store was a wake-up call for many.

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