What to do in the event of a terror attack in Sweden

The Local Sweden
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What to do in the event of a terror attack in Sweden
Police patrolling Malmö Centralstation in 2017 following the Drottninggatan terror attack in Stockholm. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden's terror threat level has been raised to a 4 for the first time since 2015. Should we as residents of Sweden change our behaviour in any way, and what should we do if an attack occurs?


The risk of actually being involved in a terror attack in Sweden is still low, although the threat of an attack occurring has risen. 

Should I change my behaviour or avoid crowds?

In the press conference announcing the change to the terror level, Charlotte von Essen, the head of the Swedish Security Services, encouraged people living in Sweden to "continue living life as usual".

Swedish police advise that you be aware of what's going on around you, with a press spokesperson telling Sveriges Radio before the threat level was raised that visitors to Stockholm's Kulturfestival this week should "perhaps take out their headphones", adding that the police encourages visitors to employ a "normal level of attentiveness" when visiting the festival.

Magnus Ranstorp, terrorism researcher at the Swedish Defence University, agreed that individuals should continue living their daily lives.

"Just go about your daily business," he told The Local. "Let the security services and others police and others do their job."

"Be alert, but not alarmist."

It's obviously very much a personal decision whether you feel safe or not in certain situations, but Ranstorp underlined the fact that the chances of actually being involved in a terrorist attack are slim.

"If you're really worried, you can avoid large public gatherings," he said.

"But go to concerts, live your life as it is. The chance of something happening to you is extremely small, even if something happens in your city, it isn't likely to happen to you."

What should I do if an attack occurs?

Although you can't predict when or if an attack might occur, it's a good idea to know how to react in the unlikely event you might be affected by a terror attack.

In a video from 2018 (with English subtitles), the police recommend that, in general, you should make a habit of locating emergency exits when in crowded areas, and that you should be prepared for the unlikely event that you might be affected by a terror attack.

They outline three key points: escape, find cover and call 112.


You should get yourself to safety if you can. As a member of the public, you may be a target. If you can't escape, find a safe place where you can hide, put your phone on silent and stay alert to your surroundings. In a similar vein, don't call anyone who could be in the danger zone, as you could make their phone ring and give away their position.

Finally, call the emergency services on 112 if you witness an attack, providing police with as much information as possible, such as where the attack occurred, what happened, and any information about the suspect or suspects, such as how many there were, what weapons they used, what they looked like and where you last saw them.

In addition to this, make sure you follow the advice of police once they arrive on the scene and make sure you can't be mistaken for a suspect. Don't hold anything in your hands which could be mistaken for a weapon, for example.


Don't spread misinformation

If an attack occurs in Sweden, make sure you don't spread fake or incorrect information in the immediate aftermath.

"The answer from the Security Services was that you should listen to official communication channels, do not spread rumours if something happens, and do not become suspicious against other people," said Ranstorp.

These rumours may not all be true, and they could even be part of a concerted disinformation campaign to influence the public and create fear.

Make sure therefore that you don't share or spread any information or claim about a possible terrorist attack without checking first to make sure it's come from a reliable source. Rumours fly directly after a terrorist attack, so if possible, wait until the situation has become more clear and more facts have been confirmed by authorities before sharing anything.

What should I do if I see anything suspicious?

You should not be afraid of reporting anything you see which you think is suspicious.

"Report on something if it seriously deviates from the normal picture on the street, but otherwise, live your normal life," Ranstorp said.

In an emergency situation you can call 112, and if the situation is less pressing you can call the police's tips line on 114 14, stating "tips" when prompted.

You can also report suspicious activity to the security services on 010-568 70 00. Again, in an emergency situation, or if you have good reason to believe an attack is imminent, call 112.


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