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Three dead, two hurt in Swedish school attack

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Tributes left outside the school in Trollhättan on Thursday. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
10:51 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: The suspect behind a stabbing spree at a school in west Sweden has been confirmed dead. A teenager and a teacher also died and two others remain in hospital.
  • 21-year-old suspect confirmed dead
  • Teenage student and teacher dead and another pupil and teacher being treated in hospital
  • 'If I had not run, I would have been murdered,' student tells The Local
  • PM Stefan Löfven: 'A dark day for Sweden'

The attack took place on Thursday morning at the school, around 75km from Gothenburg, after a man wearing a mask walked into a building on the premises wielding "several knife-like objects", police said.

One male teacher, 20, died following the incident, along with a pupil, whose age was confirmed by police in the evening as 17, despite initial statements suggesting he was 11.

A 21-year-old suspect was confirmed dead just after 4pm, with officials adding that they did not think that anyone else was involved. Another teacher and an older pupil are understood to remain in hospital.

 
"The assailant knocked on two classroom doors and he attacked the two students who opened the doors," police investigator Thord Haraldsson told a press conference in Trollhättan.
 
He said that officers called to the scene had fired two shots, with one of them hitting the assailant, after the suspect had first attempted to attack the police.
 
Haraldsson said if the police hadn't reacted as quickly as they did, the situation could have been much worse. Pre-school children had been visiting the school's library earlier in the day.
 
Some pupils have described how they initially thought the man's appearance was a prank.
 
"When we first saw him, we thought it was a joke. He was wearing a mask and black clothes and (carrying) a long sword. Some students wanted to take their picture with him and feel the sword," one unidentified pupil told TT.
 
A picture reported to be of the alleged attacker was circulating in Swedish media on Thursday afternoon. 
 
 
 
The scene outside the school shortly after the attacks. Photo: Mikael Svantesson.
 
A teenage student at the school told The Local of the moment he realised what was happening:

“I was in a classroom with my class when one of my classmates’ sisters called her to warn her that there was a murderer at the school. So we locked the door to the classroom, but our teacher was still outside in the corridor.”

“We wanted to warn him, so a few of us went outside and then I saw the murderer, he was wearing a mask and had a sword. Our teacher got stabbed."

“The murderer started chasing me, I ran into another classroom. If I had not run, I would have been murdered. I’m feeling really scared. Everyone’s scared here."

An ambulance crashed into the school wall as it arrived at the scene. Photo: Mikael Svantesson.
 
Trollhättan is an industrial town in west Sweden with around 50,000 residents.
 
Around 400 pupils are understood to be taught at the school, aged between six and 15.
 
According to Sweden's education watchdog, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate, only 16 percent of 15-year-olds at the school passed all subjects in 2014. It is among the 10 worst performing schools in Sweden.
 
"This is a school where problems have been picked up in a recent national inspection," Larz Blomqvist, chairman of the teacher's union in the municipality, told The Local.
 
"It's been hard to provide quiet and proper teaching...there's been bad behaviour and a sort of lack of control."
 
He disputed suggestions that the attack could have been a result of racial tensions in the area.
 

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"No, no, I doubt it. I don't have the full information but that sounds very unlikely."
 
 
Ribana Boskovic, 20, lives two minutes from the school, which she said her sister attended and enjoyed. She told The Local on Thursday morning that she could see ten police cars from her window.
 
"There are a lot of people outside the school. A lot of people are crying because they’re so worried. It’s very chaotic; parents are running around to find their children," she said.
 
"My mum is feeling really bad at the moment, even though my sister is safe I’m very stressed and worried. I can’t understand why it happened here."
 
Local authorities sent a crisis group to the scene to look after students and staff.

“The group is composed of seven municipal employees, whose job it is to provide comfort and support during the emergency situation,” said Per Ivarsson, internal communications manager at Trollhättan’s local council.

Sweden's Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven visited the town to meet some of those affected on Thursday evening.

“What must never happen, has happened here today," he said at a press conference. "I am here to express mine, the government's and the whole of Sweden's sympathy and sorrow."

“School should be a place for playing, for curiosity and friendship. It's a dark day for Sweden. (...) I want all school children in Sweden to know that I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure you feel safe when you go to school," he said.

"We're going to embrace those we love [tonight] and think of those who no longer are able to do that. Take care of each other. Together we take care of Sweden," urged Löfven. 


Stefan Löfven speaking in Trollhättan. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Gustav Fridolin, education minister and co-head of the Green Party, the junior partner in Löfven's coalition, gave a statement to The Local before the prime minister's press conference.

"This was not an attack against an individual school, it was an attack against the whole of Sweden," he said. 

"Many pupils throughout the country will now need to be given the chance to express their concern and ask questions. We must be able to give our children a safe school environment,” he added.

Mass violence at schools is rare in Sweden. A 1961 school shooting in Kungälv, in south-western Sweden, left one person dead and six others injured.

No shootings have occurred since then, although at least one attack has been foiled, in the southern city of Malmö in 2004. Other threats have been issued but not followed through.

Police in Trollhättan explained that there had been a threat against another school in the area (Stavreskolan) on Wednesday but said that nothing had come of this.

Birgitta Lindström Sundefors, head of the local council's education department, said that the attacked school would remain closed on Friday.

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