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Three arrested for killing of Swedish soldiers

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Three arrested for killing of Swedish soldiers
13:22 CET+01:00
Three men have been arrested in Afghanistan on suspicion of being connected to the deaths of the two Swedish soldiers near Mazar-e Sharif on Sunday, according to a report in the Expressen newspaper.

"The police believe that they could have a connection to the man who shot," the newspaper's correspondent reports from the Swedish Camp Northern Lights in Mazar-e Sharif.

"The police are talking as if they are terrorists, but can not say which group they belong to before the investigation is completed," the correspondent reports.

The plane due to carry the slain soldiers home to Sweden has been delayed.

The plane had been due to carry 28-year-old Captain Johan Palmlöv and 31-year-old Lieutenant Gunnar Andersson home from Afghanistan on Tuesday and had been scheduled to land at around 6pm local time at Ärna airport near Uppsala.

Due to adverse weather conditions in Afghanistan the plane was not able to take off, according to a Swedish military statement on Tuesday morning.

"As soon as the weather allows the plane will take off from the German airforce base Marmal outside of Mazar-e Sharif."

A farewell ceremony will be held for the Swedish officers in the chapel at Camp Northern Lights just prior to their departure to give their fellow soldiers the chance to pay their respects.

A further homecoming ceremony will be held at Ärna airport on arrival.

In the two days following the death of the officers and their Afghan interpreter Shahab, the Swedish forces in Afghanistan have been working intensively to offer support to those soldiers that remain stationed in the war-torn country.

In a statement on the Swedish military's website, it is underlined that support from Sweden has been important in this work.

"We are grateful for the support given by friends and acquaintances and from the Swedish people," said Lieutenant Mattias Isaksson, rifle company platoon commander.

"It gives us extra strength to carry on with our important work. Johan's and Gunnar's deaths should not be in vain," Lieutenant Colonel Gustaf Wallerfelt continued.

Swedish public opinion remains in favour of maintaining troops in Afghanistan despite Sunday's death, a new Sifo poll published in the Aftonbladet newspaper on Tuesday shows.

Almost half of the Swedish population, 46 percent, think that the troops should stay with 35 percent stating that the 500-strong Swedish ISAF-led force (FS18) should be brought home. 19 percent expressed no opinion.

The changes on a previous poll from 2009 are only marginal.

Of the parliamentary political parties, only the Left Party has expressed open opposition to the deployment.

Palmlöv, Andersson and Shahab were part of the patrol which came under fire on Sunday near a police station, 40 kilometres west of Mazar-e Sharif, near the village of Gurgi Tappeh.

Soldiers in the patrol have confirmed that their attacker was dressed in an Afghan police officer's uniform. His identity is the subject of the military police investigation.

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