STOCKHOLM — A man armed with an ax attacked and injured eight people in a southern Swedish town on Wednesday before being shot and arrested, the police said. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said a possible terrorist motive was being investigated.
“In the light of what has emerged so far in the police investigation, prosecutors have initiated a preliminary investigation into terrorist crimes,” he said but didn’t elaborate.
Shortly after his statement, investigators at a police news conference said that they had started a preliminary investigation into attempted murder, with details “that make us investigate any terrorist motives.”
“But at the moment I cannot go into details,” the regional police chief, Malena Grann, said. The police said the man, who is in his 20s, attacked people in the small town of Vetlanda, about 118 miles southeast of Goteborg, Sweden’s second largest city. His motive was not immediately known.
The man was shot by police, who said the condition of those attacked and of the perpetrator was not immediately known. Officials did not provide the identity of the suspect, who was taken to a hospital.
The local police chief, Jonas Lindell, said “it seems that the injuries are not life-threatening” but could not give further details. The events took place in downtown Vetlanda with the police saying they had received calls about a man assaulting people with an ax.
Lofven condemned “this terrible act,” and added that Sweden’s domestic security agency, SAPO, was also working on the case. “They continuously assess whether there are reasons to take security-enhancing measures and are prepared to do so if necessary,” he said in a statement.