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Ikea blasts linked to extortion scheme

Ikea blasts linked to extortion scheme

Published: 21 Sep 2011 16:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Sep 2011 16:18 GMT+02:00

Officials at Swedish retail giant Ikea have confirmed that the company is the target of a blackmail attempt following a string of blasts and other incidents at Ikea outlets throughout Europe.

“What I can say is that the situation has recently developed into an extortion attempt,” Ikea spokesperson Ylva Magnusson told The Local.

Magnusson explained that Europol, as well as other law enforcement agencies in several European countries, have been investigating a series of incidents targeting Ikea stores across Europe.

In May, explosions at three Ikea stores in the Netherlands, Belgium and France forced the stores to be evacuated and prompting a probe into what police believed may have been a coordinated attack.

And in June a blast in the kitchen equipment department of an Ikea store in Dresden, Germany, reportedly left two customers in need of hospital treatment.

More recently, two Ikea stores in the Czech capital Prague in early September were evacuated when a booby-trapped device was found in a waste bin at one of the stores.

And on Monday, September 12th, an Ikea store near Bergen in Norway was evacuated following a bomb threat made by telephone.

Magnusson was reluctant to divulge any information about what specifically led investigators to conclude that Ikea was being targeted in an extortion racket.

While no Ikea stores in Sweden have been struck in the recent string of incidents, Magnusson said the furniture retailer had nevertheless beefed up security at Swedish Ikea stores as a “precautionary measure”.

“We want our customers and employees to feel safe in our stores,” she said.

“Security is very important to us.”

Previous media reports have claimed that German police were probing the theory that the blasts may have been aimed at Ikea's 85-year-old founder Ingvar Kamprad over well-known Nazi sympathies in his youth.

However, Magnusson refused to discuss speculation about what may be behind the blackmail attempt, or go into details about specific demands.

“We've been instructed by police not to release any details that could jeopardise their investigation,” she said.

Magnusson also wasn't able to confirm which countries were actively involved in the ongoing probe and whether or not investigators had concluded that the recent incidents were all a part of a single coordinated extortion attempt.

“I'm not sure about the possible connections. That's something the police are still investigating,” she said.

Earlier in September, Europol issued an appeal to the public for information on suspected perpetrator of the May blasts in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The suspect, who is thought to be the same for each attack, is believed to have placed improvised explosive devices inside the Ikea stores before exiting.

The suspect has been filmed by surveillance cameras and two witnesses have also described the offender escaping, according to Europol, which has said it is supporting cases under investigation in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Local has sought comment on the investigation from Europol.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:27 September 21, 2011 by MC7669
Ikea Israel is the safest in the world......The Israelis are the only country that knows how to prevent this kind of situation against when Palestinians try to make terror on Israeli citizens.
00:54 September 22, 2011 by jack sprat
Looks like Kamprads chickens are coming home to roost.

The extortion attempt is likely just the result of an opportunistic hanger-on to the main event.
03:09 September 22, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
Like the Pope, Kamprad had Nazi sympathies in his youth. They really did not have any choice other than death. The man is now in his mid-80's and he is NO Nazi. Now, those who are familiar with me out here know that I do not tolerate racist rhetoric that comes from those out here who support the Sweden Democrats. I do not try to white-wash dirty deeds that Nazis and other racists advocate. To attack Ingvar Kamprad's IKEA outlets throughout Europe is tantamount to what the Nazis did to Jewish merchants. And to hurt, maim, or even kill innocent shoppers and bystanders is abhorrent. I hope Europol gets to the bottom of this once and for all.
07:21 September 22, 2011 by Scansson
Maybe there having a "Blow-out" sale : )
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