Author: JARI TANNER
HELSINKI (AP) – A violent explosion in an apartment building in Sweden took place early Tuesday in Gothenburg, injuring up to 20 people, igniting several fires and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. Police suspect the explosion may have been caused by the explosive.
The blast took place just before five in the morning in the Annedal area in central Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city. The fires spread to several homes, and the fire crew continued to work to extinguish the flames in the middle of the morning.
Jon Pile, chief operating officer of the Gothenburg Rescue Department, said the explosion caused some people to jump out of their windows to escape.
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg said the cause of the explosion is not yet known, but he told Swedish television broadcaster TV4 that investigators believe it may be a crime. They are investigating whether tenants were potentially targeted, he said.
“We suspect someone may have placed something that has exploded,” Fuxborg said.
Ingrid Frederiksson, a spokeswoman for Sahlgrenska University Hospital, said 16 people were taken to Gothenburg’s main hospital. Four people – three older women and a 50-year-old man – were seriously injured, he said. Some mildly injured were treated at the scene.
Lars Hulten, a resident of the building, told the Goteborg Tidning daily that he was woken up by the sound of the explosion.
“It was probably the loudest thing I heard. The whole apartment was shaking. The bed was shaking,” he said.
Hulten said he saw desperate people “hanging from the balconies, climbing over the balconies. There was one that crashed. It was very dramatic and very fast fire and smoke. “
Another witness, Lars-Gunnar Wolmesjo, told the Expressen newspaper that he too saw people on his balconies and “some climbed down, some jumped and others had to wait for firefighters to pick them up along the ladder”.
Pile told reporters that the explosion took place in the courtyard of the building, whose entrance gate was blown up.
The explosion arose amid an increase in violence between the organized criminal forces of the Scandinavian people.
On June 30, police were shot and killed in Gothenburg. The 17-year-old suspect has since been arrested. Earlier this year, the Swedish National Crime Prevention Council stated that Sweden was the only European country where the number of fatal shootings has increased significantly since 2000, mainly due to violent gangs.
In 2019, a powerful explosion blew up two adjoining apartment buildings in Linkoping, southern Sweden, injuring 25 people and damaging more than 100 homes. Police believe there was a dispute between opposing criminal forces behind the explosion. No arrests have been made.
The Swedish media immediately focused on Tuesday on the possibility that the Gothenburg explosion could be linked to the controversy, but Prime Minister Stefan Lofven repeatedly refused to speculate on the motive.
“We don’t want to speculate on what this is. It’s too early to draw conclusions. We don’t know what the motive is. We don’t know anything,” Lofven said.
“We all want to know more. We want to understand what happened and what was the cause of this explosion, but it is clear that crime cannot be ruled out,” Interior Minister Mikael Damberg added at a news conference with Lofven.
Jan M. Olsen attended Copenhagen, Denmark.