Thursday, December 2, 2021

Swedish ambulance raids probe link to May attack

Calls for conclusion to inquiry after explosion that injured a cyclist followed by arson attack on emergency service vehicles

Police in Sweden say they have named a suspect in connection with the arson attack on an ambulance in the country’s second city, Gothenburg, as well as the blast that injured a cyclist the same day.

Investigators have begun looking into a “possible link” between Monday’s explosion and the May incident in which a 43-year-old man was jailed for six years for “starting a fire with intent to burn or seriously injure a person”.

An X-ray image of the damage caused to a rescue vehicle. Photograph: EU/AFP/Getty Images

Nine ambulances, 11 fire engines and an ambulance were attacked in three separate attacks in Gothenburg on Monday. A 52-year-old man was arrested in connection with the suicide attack on an ambulance, which caused extensive damage to the vehicle but no injuries.

When officers responded to an emergency call at 9.30am local time on Monday, they found a man had jumped from a car as it passed through a pedestrian crossing and injured himself with an improvised explosive device, Stockholm police said.

The man was alive and helped by ambulance crews until they arrived. However, he died later.

The attack, which targeted a vehicle acting as an early-response vehicle, “closely matched” the May incident in which an improvised explosive device detonated outside Gothenburg’s General Hospital.

“The way the perpetrator set the car on fire represents a serious level of attention to the clinical and strategic situation of the emergency workers,” a police spokeswoman, Irena Virtanen, said.

She said the man who died in the explosion “appeared to suffer from mental health issues and was known to a mental health service”.

Reports suggested the attack was the latest in a series of recent bombings or arson attacks in Sweden.

The city of Linköping in central Sweden was plunged into darkness over the weekend after six cars were set alight in a park. Last Thursday, three mail trucks were set alight.

On 22 May, a 43-year-old man tried to set fire to an ambulance in the south-western city of Torshovsk, before setting fire to the kitchen and bedroom in a house opposite.

Eight fire engines were set alight and a nine-year-old boy was injured after he jumped out of a window to escape from the attack. In that case, the suspect was jailed for six years.

The victims of a spate of attacks on ambulance staff and fire services said they were no longer able to trust emergency services.

“This attack shows how these despicable human beings can invade other people’s homes in broad daylight, and throw fire bombs in a civilian building,” said Sven

Adamki of the FDRA, the emergency services union in Sweden.

“I cannot believe that this could happen in Sweden,” said Marcus Holmén, CEO of Gräfersaari, another emergency services union. “We feel unprotected. We never feel safe. We are more frightened now than ever.”

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