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The Scene In Stockholm A Day After Attack

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The Scene In Stockholm A Day After Attack

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The Scene In Stockholm A Day After Attack

The Scene In Stockholm A Day After Attack

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NPR's Scott Simon asks terrorism expert Magnus Norell of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy about the attack in Stockholm.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We turn now to Stockholm. Authorities have arrested a man they believe to be responsible for yesterday's truck attack. The prime minister of Sweden has described it as an act of terror. The truck plowed through a pedestrian mall in the heart of Stockholm before it smashed into a department store. Four people died. Fifteen people were injured. Magnus Norell studies terrorism as a scholar for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He joins us from Stockholm. Mr. Norell, thanks so much for being with us.

MAGNUS NORELL: Thanks for having me on.

SIMON: Help us understand this part of Stockholm and why it might figure as a target for someone who wants to instill fear in the heart of a city.

NORELL: Right. Well, if you want to do something in Stockholm, that will be the place to do it because it's smack in the middle of the city. It's a major pedestrian street, lots of shops and restaurants normally full of people, especially on a Friday afternoon. So if you really want to make an impact, that would be a logical place to strike.

SIMON: It's been targeted before, I gather, hasn't it?

NORELL: Well, yeah, but that was, yeah, seven years ago almost on exactly the same spot actually. There was an attempt suicide attack, but the perpetrator only managed to kill himself at that point.

SIMON: Yeah. Help us understand how, over the past few years, the atmosphere in Stockholm and in Sweden may have changed.

NORELL: Well, I mean, in theory of course, everybody here, as well as in other countries in Europe, we are aware of - that there is a threat picture here. So, you know, you - and the police, of course, have been saying for a number of years that, you know, something may happen. Sweden is not immune, even though cities like London and Paris and Berlin, of course, are more high-value targets. But, you know, there is - there's been a sense that something like this might happen. But this was the first. And when it does happen - because now this is the real thing - there is, I would say, mentally a lack of preparedness maybe, but that's normal because it's never happened before. So I think, you know, we will see. In time, we will find out how much will change, if anything, but (unintelligible).

SIMON: But what about the increase in immigrants? How is that figured into Sweden?

NORELL: Well, for starters, we don't know if this is related in any way yet, so - you know, in this particular incident. But of course the impact...

SIMON: I meant how it might be related to the reaction of the Swedish public.

NORELL: Yeah, all right, OK, sure. No, no, it's been a discussion for the last - especially the last year and a half since the fall of 2015 when we had this large influx of migrants. So of course, that very issue is on top of the agenda here. And it's already shown itself into the - you know, especially in social media when discussions about these terror attacks occurred. But again, I'd just like to emphasize this - so far we don't know if there is a connection, even though the perpetrator in custody is a foreign national, is Uzbekistan.

SIMON: And, may I ask, do Swede's feel more more vulnerable? Is there more calls for more preparation?

NORELL: That's a good question. I - the police have been saying that they are - sort of stepped up security, but I'm not sure that is really the case. I mean, again, you know, in theory, they say, you know, something might happen, but a truck attack like this is extremely difficult to defend yourself against, especially, you know, if you use a truck inside a city. It's not really a problem if you want to - it's a very, quote, unquote, "cheap way" of - a simple way of, you know, doing a lot of harm. So I think in the short term people will be more scared maybe.

SIMON: Magnus Norell in Stockholm, thanks very much for being with us, sir.

NORELL: Thank you.

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Police Arrest Suspect In Deadly Truck Attack In Stockholm

Police secure the scene where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm on Friday. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Police secure the scene where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm on Friday.

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 4:40 a.m. ET Saturday

A suspect in Friday's truck attack in Stockholm has been arrested, according to a Swedish prosecutor.

Police in Sweden say the man they have arrested is "likely" the driver of a truck which drove into pedestrians on a major shopping and tourist street in Stockholm, causing multiple injuries and fatalities.

People react near where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm on Friday. Andreas Schyman/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Andreas Schyman/AFP/Getty Images

People react near where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm on Friday.

Andreas Schyman/AFP/Getty Images

The vehicle, a stolen beer delivery truck, plowed through the pedestrian street and crashed into an upscale department store. Four people died and 15 were injured, according to police.

"It is likely him," police spokesman Lars Bystrom told The Associated Press Saturday morning.

Prosecutor Hans Ihrman said authorities identified the man as a suspect "of terrorist offenses by murder," the AP reports. Ihrman said the man should have a pre-trial hearing on whether he will remain in custody before the middle of the day Tuesday or be released.

Ihrman and Bystrom told the wire service that police have only arrested one person in their investigation of the attack.

Emergency crews work at the scene where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm on Friday. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Emergency crews work at the scene where a truck crashed into the Ahlens department store in central Stockholm on Friday.

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities earlier said they are investigating the incident as a possible terrorist attack. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

One child and eight adults who were injured remain in Karolinska hospital, the AP reported early Saturday, and six people have been released.

"This is a day of mourning for Sweden. The attack targeted our society at its most vulnerable — when we are going about our daily lives. Our thoughts go to those affected and to their families," Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in a statement on the government's website.

The government says flags will be flown at half mast at government offices on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.

On Friday, police had questioned two people they did not identify as suspects. (At one point Sweden's prime minister said someone had been arrested, but police said that was not true.)

Then authorities released a photo of a man they said was wanted in connection with the crash.

"The picture shows a man clad in a hooded jacket on an escalator in what appears to be the Stockholm metro," Radio Sweden reported. "The police stressed he is not suspected of the deed, but is wanted for questioning."

Prime Minister Löfven, speaking shortly after the incident, said there were indications the truck hit pedestrians as "a terror attack." But Radio Sweden reports that the Swedish Security Service says there is no confirmation the incident was an act of terrorism.

Police were unable to confirm early reports of gunfire at the scene.

The incident occurred on Drottninggatan, or Queen Street, a popular walking destination lined with shops. The location of the crash was a pedestrian-only section of the street, according to Radio Sweden.

"It's a very crowded part of the city," Swedish journalist Lava Delo told NPR's Morning Edition.

Video footage shows people fleeing.

The Local, an English-language news agency with reporters in Sweden, reports that a brewery says the truck was hijacked from one of its staff members:

"Swedish brewery company Spendrups, which owns the truck, said it had been hijacked earlier in the day.

" 'It's one of our distribution vehicles which runs deliveries. During a delivery to the restaurant Caliente someone jumped into the driver's cabin and drove off with the car, while the driver unloads,' communication director Mårten Lyth told the TT news agency."

According to Radio Sweden, "large parts of central Stockholm are cordoned off, all metro services are canceled [and] the parliament building (Riksdag) and the government headquarters Rosenbad are in lock-down."

"A number of busy shopping locations in Stockholm have been evacuated at the request of the police," The Local reports, and theaters, concert venues and other events have also been shut down.

The department store where the truck crashed into the building is a few blocks from the site of a 2010 bombing in Stockholm, the most recent terrorist attack in the country. In that bombing, the attacker succeeded only in killing himself.

NPR's James Doubek contributed to this report.

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.