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Stockholm explosions act of terrorism: Swedish cops

world Updated: Dec 12, 2010 19:11 IST

Swedish police said on Sunday that two explosions in central Stockholm were an act of terrorism by what appeared to be a suicide bomber, who killed himself and injured two people.

Police would not comment on a motive for the Saturday attack on a busy street, but a Swedish news agency has reported receiving an email just before the blast referring to a case of a cartoon of Muhammad that outraged the Muslim world and to the country's soldiers in Afghanistan.

Police are investigating the Saturday attacks as "a crime of terror," spokesman Anders Thornberg told reporters.

"When we go through the existing criteria and the series of events that occurred it fits well within the description of a terror crime," Thornberg said. He declined to elaborate.

Thornberg did not confirm local media reports that the man who died had explosives strapped to his body. A car exploded in the city center near Drottninggatan, causing panic among Christmas shoppers.

Shortly afterward, a second explosion was heard higher up on the same street. Ten minutes before the blasts, Swedish news agency TT received an e-mail saying "the time has come to take action."

According to the news agency, the e-mail referred to Sweden's silence surrounding artist Lars Vilk's drawing of Muhammad as a dog and its soldiers in Afghanistan. "Now your children, daughters and sisters shall die like our brothers and sisters and children are dying," the news agency quoted the e-mail as saying.

Police said they were aware of the e-mail, which had also been addressed to Sweden's security police, but couldn't immediately confirm a link to the explosions. Two people were taken to the hospital with light injuries.

Rescue workers said that the exploded car contained gas canisters. Sweden - which has so far been spared any large terrorist attacks - raised its terror threat alert level from low to elevated in October because of "a shift in activities" among Swedish-based groups that could be plotting attacks there.

The security police said then that the terrorism threat in Sweden remained low compared to that in other European countries. Thornberg said Saturday's attack does not change the terror threat alert in the Nordic country.