Murder suspicions after woman dies in house fire

A dead woman was found by emergency crews battling a house fire in northern Sweden on Thursday, leading police to issue an arrest warrant for a man they believe murdered the woman.

According to Norbotten County police, the woman’s body showed signs of having been subject to violence.

The scene of the fire, a house just west of Haparanda, has been cordoned off by police and a forensic investigation is underway.

Police were alerted about the woman’s body by emergency crews who had arrived to put out the fire, which was first reported at around 6pm Thursday evening.

“When emergency crews pulled the woman out of the burning house and were about to try to recusitate her, they saw that she had injuries which indicated she had subject to extreme violence. I can’t say exactly what types of injuries,” police spokesperson Anders Calderäng told the TT news agency.

Police are now working to ascertain the woman’s identity.

“Police are on the scene speaking with neighbours and anyone who may have seen or heard something. We’re also going to carry out our own forensic investigation of the fire-damaged house as quickly as possible,” said Calderäng.

While the house was heavily damaged in the fire, it didn’t burn to the ground entirely.

“There were flames on the first floor and there was a lot of smoke,” emergency crew member Bengt Lindgren told the Expressen newspaper.

Police suspect the fire was set in order to cover up the murder and by late Thursday evening they had identified a suspect.

“We’re issuing a nationwide alert for the suspected perpetrator,” Erik Kummu of the Norbotten County police told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

As of early Friday morning, an arrest warrant had been issued for the suspect, but police released few other details about the case, adding they will have more to say during a press conference scheduled for later on Friday.

TT/The Local/dl

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Sweden’s Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season

Sweden's straw yule goat Gävlebocken, whose biggest claim to fame is its tendency to get burned down every year, is all set for its annual return on Sunday.

Sweden's Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season
The ill-fated 2016 Gävlebocken. Photo: Pernilla Wahlman/TT

Every year, the Christmas goat (Gävlebocken) in the Slottstorget square in Gävle, central Sweden, attracts a media storm with locals dreaming up new ways to protect the arson-prone 13-metre-high creation.

Despite their efforts, including in some years spraying the goat in anti-flammable liquid, the goat usually goes up in flames long before Swedes have opened their Christmas presents.

Last year, the goat surprisingly made it to Boxing Day intact, to the delight of organisers, who were reported to have put a “secret” plan into effect to protect it.

In 2016 it was less fortunate, going down in flames mere hours after its inauguration.

READ ALSO: 'Memorial' to be held for Sweden's giant yule goat

“Many people are invested” in the straw goat in Gävle, Maria Wallberg of the town’s municipality told TT.

The central Swedish town is naturally proud of its luckless Christmas decoration, despite the fact it has burned town 29 times during its 50-year history.

Thousands of people are expect to attend the unveiling of the goat on Sunday, with the ceremony to be presented by Swedish comedian Clara Henry.

“It means an incredible amount that the city has such a strong symbol which is known all over the world,” Wallberg said.

Security around the giant goat is expected to be high, both during its inauguration day and throughout December. Security guards and cameras will both be deployed to keep an eye on it behind its fencing, while a taxi rank has been moved to the square to increase the presence of people in the area.

“For security reasons, we can’t go into too much detail,” Wallberg said of any further precautions.

Historical precedent is against Gävlebocken. In its first year, 1966, it burned down on New Year’s Eve and it has only made it through the entire month on 15 occasions. It has been burned, stolen and vandalised. In 1976, someone drove a stock car into it.

Orörd = undamaged; uppeldad = burned down; annan skada = otherwise damaged; oklart öde = fate unknown. Graphic: TT

“An attack early in the season would mean cancellations at hotels and restaurants. So it is incredibly important for Gävle, Gävle’s businesses and for everyone who wants to visit the goat that it is still standing at New Year,” Wallberg said.

READ ALSO: Five weirdest attacks on Gävle's arson-prone Christmas goat