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Suspected bomb near Swedish NATO meeting venue

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17:54 CEST+02:00
A possible bomb has been discovered in central Sweden just days before a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in a nearby town gets under way, police said on Sunday.

"We received word at around 6pm yesterday (Saturday) that there was an explosive device in Östersund," local duty officer Peter Moberg told AFP, adding that the device consisted of a bottle filled with some kind of explosives and hooked up to a timer.

"It's too early to say whether or not this should be characterized as a bomb," he said.

Police blocked off the surrounding area before technicians went in to get the device, which they later destroyed by detonating it, Moberg said, adding that he was unaware of how powerful the explosive charge might have been.

The incident happened only three days before a NATO-led meeting between foreign ministers within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council Security Forum is scheduled to begin amidst tight security in the nearby ski-resort town of

Åre.

Massive demonstrations against NATO's military operations as well as for continued neutrality in Sweden, which is not a NATO member, are expected in Åre during the two-day meeting that begins on Tuesday.

Protestors have also said they will demonstrate in Östersund, where the nearest airport to the site is located, on Monday.

"There is a connection here in one way or another. Usually we don't find bombs around here," another Östersund police officer Frank Nilsson told Swedish daily Aftonbladet.

A spokeswoman for the security operation surrounding the Åre meeting, comprising a total of 1,800 police officers, insisted however that the explosive device was not linked to the meeting.

"We have reached the conclusion that this had nothing to do with the NATO meeting," Carolina Ekeus told AFP, refusing to elaborate on how that conclusion had been reached.

All foreign ministers within NATO and its partner countries have been invited to take part in the meeting, but a number of the organization's most influential members, including the United States, Germany, France and Italy, will be sending lower-level representation.

AFP

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