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Up to 20 people injured in apartment building explosion in Sweden

Smoke billowing from apartment building in Sweden
Smoke billows from an apartment building after an explosion in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city, on Tuesday.
(Bjorn Larsson Rosvall / TT)

A powerful explosion in an apartment building in Sweden that police suspect was caused by an explosive device injured up to 20 people and forced the evacuation of hundreds more early Tuesday in Gothenburg, the country’s second-largest city.

Sahlgrenska University Hospital spokeswoman Ingrid Frederiksson said 16 people were taken to the city’s main hospital. Four people — three women and a man in his 50s — were being treated for serious injuries, she said.

Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg said the cause of the explosion was not yet known. But he told Swedish broadcaster TV4 that investigators think foul play might have been involved and are looking into whether any tenants might have been targeted.

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“We suspect that someone might have placed something that has exploded. That is the word we got when the alarm was given,” Fuxborg said.

The explosion occurred just before 5 a.m. in the Annedal district in central Gothenburg (also known as Goteborg). Fires spread to several apartments, and crews from the local fire department were still working to extinguish the flames at 9 a.m.

“It was burning in several places in the property and in several apartments after the explosion,” said Jon Pile, operations manager at the local rescue service.

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Building resident Lars Hulten told the newspaper Goteborg Tidning that the sound of the explosion woke him up.

“It was probably the loudest thing I heard. The whole apartment vibrated. The bed vibrated,” he said.

Hulten said he saw desperate people who “hung from balconies, climbing over balconies. There was one who fell. It was very dramatic and a very fast course of fire and smoke.”

Another witness, Lars-Gunnar Wolmesjo, told the Expressen newspaper that he, too, saw people on their balconies. “Some climbed down, some jumped and some had to wait for the firefighters to pick them up with a ladder,” Wolmesjo said.

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Some of the building’s residents jumped out of windows following the blast, Pile told reporters. He said it appeared that the explosion took place in the building’s inner courtyard, which had its entry gate blown away.

The blast comes amid a rise in violence between organized criminal gangs in the Scandinavian nation.

On June 30, a police officer was shot and killed in Gothenburg. A 17-year-old suspect has since been arrested. Earlier this year, the national council for crime prevention said Sweden was the only European country where fatal shootings have risen significantly since 2000, primarily because of violent gangs.

In 2019, a powerful explosion ripped through two adjacent apartment buildings in the southern city of Linkoping, injuring 25 people and damaging more than 100 apartments. Police believe a feud between opposing criminal gangs was behind the blast. No arrests have been made.

Swedish media immediately focused Tuesday on the possibility that the blast in Gothenburg could be related to feuding gangs, but Prime Minister Stefan Lofven repeatedly declined to speculate on a motive.

“It is too early to draw conclusions. We do not know what the motive is. We know nothing,” Lofven said.

“We all want to know more. We want to understand what happened and what was the cause of this explosion, but it’s clear that crime cannot be ruled out,” Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg added at a news conference alongside Lofven.


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