Swedish police hunt man for imam shooting

TT/The Local/pvs
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Swedish police hunt man for imam shooting

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a man in connection with the shooting of an Uzbek imam in northern Sweden in February.


The man is suspected of attempting to murder Obydkhon Sobitkhony Nazarov who was shot in the head on February 22nd in Strömsund.

"It is the man who has carried out the attack. He is from Eastern Europe and is between 30 and 40-years-old," said prosecutor Krister Petersson to the TT news agency.

Krister Petersson was unwilling to confirm either man's nationality or the country in which he is suspected to be residing.

Following the decision by Östersund district court, Petersson confirmed that he plans to submit a European arrest warrant which is a requirement to facilitate the man's extradition to Sweden.

Two further people were arrested in mid-May on suspicion of involvement in the shooting and remain remanded in custody.

The Uzbek imam was found bleeding in his staircase in Strömsund in Jämtland at midday on February 22nd. Over three months later the 54-year-old, who was shot in the head, remains in a coma in hospital.

Nazarov is a well known religious leader and dissident in Uzbekistan and came to Sweden in 2006.

Investigators believe that Nazarov's political activities may have been the reason for why he was shot and opted to inform Swedish security service Säpo at an early stage of the investigation.

Nazarov is a known critic of the regime in Uzbekistan and came to Sweden along with scores of other political refugees after a 2005 crackdown by Uzbek government troops in Andijan in which hundreds of protesters were killed, although the exact number of casualties remains in dispute.

At the time of the incident, known as the Andijan massacre, the Uzbek government claimed the demonstrations were organized by Islamic radicals.

In the wake of the influx of Uzbek refugees, Strömsund, a town of just over 4,000 residents, has seen a rise in hate crimes ranging from racist graffiti to the burning down of a mosque in the city in 2008.


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