Guard Fires at Gunmen Near U.S. Envoy

From Times Wire Services

Swedish police said Wednesday that they are still searching for two armed men who were prowling around a villa where U.S. Ambassador Gregory J. Newell was attending a dinner party.

"It could have been anything from poachers to a planned attack against the American ambassador," said Police Superintendent Rune Rytters, who is coordinating the search.

The pair were discovered Tuesday night by a Swedish policeman assigned to guard the American ambassador. Police said the guard fired three shots at the men when they pointed their weapons at him, but the prowlers fled into a forest without returning fire.

Secluded Area

Newell was among two dozen dinner guests at industrialist Bo Johnson's mansion in Varmdo, a secluded area of villas, summer houses and forest along the coast east of Stockholm.

About 30 police officers with dogs and speedboats searched for the prowlers Wednesday.

When the Swedish police guard fired at the two men Tuesday night, Newell and the other guests were having cocktails on the terrace, police said.

Newell's bodyguard was conducting a routine search of the grounds about 8 p.m. when he spotted the men behind a fir hedge about 500 feet from the mansion, said Bengt Frih, police commissioner of the town of Nacka, where Varmdo is located.

The guard "felt threatened by the men," who pointed their guns at him, Frih said. The guard fired three shots at them from a distance of 100 feet, police said.

The bodyguard said the men were olive-skinned with dark, curly hair. They were both said to be wearing leather jackets.

The U.S. Embassy in Stockholm would not comment and referred all questions to police.

Newell, 36, became ambassador to Sweden in December. He worked for President Reagan's reelection campaign in 1984 and was one of several assistant secretaries of state in the Reagan Administration.

Married with five children, Newell is a leading member of the Mormon Church, and he caused resentment when he ruled that only soft drinks should be served at embassy staff parties, diplomats said. Wine is served at official dinners, however.

The ambassador ordered a review of security measures for American personnel and facilities in Sweden after the April 7 bombing of the Stockholm office of Northwest Orient, the U.S. airline.

Caused No Injuries

The attack caused minor damage but no injuries. No group claimed responsibility.

Johnson, 68, is a member of one of Sweden's richest families and heads Nordstjernan, a diversified company with interests in shipping, construction, steel and retail sales.

Attacks on public figures are extremely rare in Sweden. However, on Feb. 28, an unidentified assailant gunned down Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, 59, on a Stockholm street. The assassin has not been found.

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