Sweden Truck Attack

April 7, 2017

At least three people were killed and 15 others injured after a man rammed a vehicle into a crowd of people on a busy street in the center of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, on 7 April in an apparent terrorist attack. The incident took place just before 15:00 local time on Drottninggatan street between Kungsgatan street and Mäster Samuelsgatan street. After striking pedestrians on Drottninggatan, the vehicle crashed into the Ahlens department store. The Parliament and the subway system in Stockholm were placed on lockdown, and police have urged people stay off the streets. Central Station was also evacuated and all train services were suspended.

Initial reports indicated the suspect was in custody, though authorities then confirmed no suspect was in custody and an extensive manhunt was launched across the city. However, the latest reports indicate that at least one suspect was arrested after the manhunt. It remains unclear at this time whether police are looking for additional suspects. Swedish police are also reportedly questioning at least two people in relation to the incident. Streets across Stockholm have been closed off and the city’s transit system remains on lockdown as the search continues. Reports indicate heavily armed police have been deployed throughout the city.

The situation is still developing and details are continuing to emerge about the number of individuals killed and injured in the attack, and the ongoing police operation in the city.

This attack is the latest incident in a continuing trend of vehicular ramming attacks in Europe. The tactic has also been used in Israel and North America in recent years. This trend follows a call from the terrorist group the Islamic State (IS) for their followers to use vehicles to conduct attacks. Recently, on 22 March, five people were killed and dozens others injured after an assailant rammed a vehicle into a crowd of people near Parliament on Westminster Bridge in London, United Kingdom. The assailant then ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed a police officer with a knife before being shot and killed by police. IS claimed the attacker was one of their soldiers. Earlier, on 19 December 2016, 12 people were killed when a truck drove into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany in an attack claimed by IS. On 28 November 2016, a student at Ohio State University drove into a crowd of people on a sidewalk on campus before he got out and began stabbing people. Eleven people were injured in the attack, and the assailant was shot and killed by police. IS claimed the assailant was one of their soldiers. On 14 July 2016, 86 people were killed when a truck drove into a crowd of people in Nice, France in an attack also claimed by IS.

As has been demonstrated once again on the streets of a major European city, vehicle ramming attacks are incredibly easy to carry out from a tactical perspective. Authorities in major cities are confronted with the difficult task of balancing accessibility in their cities with the need to put in place defensive mechanisms to prevent or deter similar future attacks. This may require the use of more barriers and roadblocks near high pedestrian traffic areas in urban areas.

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