Apparent Try on Life of U.S. Envoy Foiled
The U.S. ambassador to Sweden escaped an apparent assassination attempt during a terrace cocktail party when his bodyguard fired at two armed men found lurking nearby, police said today.
“We are assuming that the men were attempting an assassination” of U.S. Ambassador Gregory Newell, Police Commissioner Sven Lilja said.
The gunmen escaped and no one was injured in the incident.
Two Swedish policemen assigned to protect Newell, 36, stumbled across the gunmen while making a routine inspection of the grounds of a secluded mansion outside Stockholm where about 20 guests, including Ambassador Andres Rozental of Mexico, were being entertained by millionaire Swedish industrialist Bo Axson Johnson.
Newell took up the post in Sweden last year. Confirmation of his appointment was delayed by the Senate after Newell was unable to name the 16 members of the NATO alliance.
A high-ranking member of the Mormon Church, he is married and has five children.
Lilja said the two men, with dark curly hair and wearing dark clothing, were discovered in long grass after the security police heard suspicious sounds.
They were armed with an assault rifle and a double-barrelled hunting rifle, Lilja said. The bodyguards fired three quick shots.
‘Shoot First, Questions Later’
“They decided to shoot first and ask questions later,” he said.
The two men, thought to be about 25 years old, turned on their heels and fled on a motorcycle parked nearby.
Police immediately mounted a manhunt with boats, helicopters and dogs but without success.
The incident, which occurred on Lagno Island, 12 miles east of Stockholm, is the biggest security scare since the assassination on a central Stockholm street last Feb. 28 of Prime Minister Olof Palme.
Police are still hunting the gunman who shot Palme at close range as he walked home with his wife from a movie house.