Sweden jails radicalized Uzbek truck attacker for life

File photo showing emergency services at the scene of an attack on Drottninggatan street in central Stockholm, Sweden, where an Uzbek man killed five people and injured 14, on April 7, 2017. (AP)
Updated 07 June 2018

Sweden jails radicalized Uzbek truck attacker for life

STOCKHOLM: A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a radicalized and rejected Uzbek asylum seeker to life in prison for terrorism after he mowed down pedestrians with a stolen truck in central Stockholm last year, killing five people.
The assault mirrored other truck attacks in 2016 that left scores dead in France, Germany and the UK. It occurred as Sweden grappled with the aftermath of having taken in more migrants per capita than any other country in Europe.
Arrested hours after the April 7, 2017 attack, Rakhmat Akilov, 40, who swore allegiance to Daesh on the eve of the assault, said that members of Daesh had given him the green light on encrypted chat sites to carry out a suicide attack in the Swedish capital.
However, the extremist organization never claimed responsibility for the assault.
The Stockholm district court convicted Akilov of “terrorist crimes” for five murders and 119 attempted murders in one of Stockholm’s busiest shopping streets.
Three Swedes — including a girl who would have turned 12 on Thursday — were killed along with a 41-year-old British man and a 31-year-old Belgian woman. Another 10 people were injured.
Akilov, who confessed almost immediately to the attack, expressed no remorse during his nearly three-month trial.
His gaze often remained empty, even when photographs and footage of the bloody attack were projected onto a large screen in the courtroom.
“The effects (the attack) had on Sweden were rather severe and his intention was to scare the Swedish public,” senior judge Ragnar Palmkvist told AFP.
“He acted with the direct intention to kill as many people as possible,” the court said in its verdict, adding that Akilov would be expelled after serving the life term, which averages 16 years in Sweden.
After swerving wildly to hit as many people as possible, Akilov’s rampage ended when the truck smashed into the facade of a large department store.
Another judge in the trial, Carl Rosenmuller, said Akilov saw the victims as “pins in a game,” not human beings.
An explosive device — made up of five gas canisters and nails — did not explode as planned and caused fire damage only to the truck.
Akilov fled the scene, running into a nearby metro station, and was arrested several hours later after being identified by public transport video surveillance images and eyewitness reports.

Scores dead in bomb attacks across Sri Lankan capital

Updated 1 min 5 sec ago

Scores dead in bomb attacks across Sri Lankan capital

  • The churches hit were in the north of the capital, and the town of Negombo, just outside Colombo
  • Attacks happened as Christians attended Easter Sunday services

COLOMBO: At least 137 people, including nine foreigners, were killed in Sri Lanka on Sunday, when a string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services.

Sri Lanka’s police chief made a nationwide alert 10 days before Sunday’s bomb attacks in the country that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches,” according to the warning seen by AFP.

Police chief Pujuth Jayasundara sent an intelligence warning to top officers on April 11 setting out the threat.

“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” said the alert.

The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that came to notice last year when it was linked to the vandalization of Buddhist statues.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 42 people were killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit.

Another 10 people were confirmed dead in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country, where another church was targeted.
There were also reports of casualties in a blast at a church north of the capital and the toll was expected to rise.
The nature of the blasts was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.
President Maithripala Sirisena in an address said he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, writing on his verified Twitter account, said the attacks had killed “many innocent people” and appeared to be a “well-coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem & anarchy.”
The first explosions were reported at St. Anthony’s Shrine, a church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in the town of Negombo just outside the capital.
Dozens of people injured in the St. Anthony’s blast flooded into the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official told AFP.
“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,” read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St. Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.
Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in Batticaloa.
An official at one of the hotels, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel near the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo, told AFP that the blast had ripped through the hotel restaurant.
He said at least one person had been killed in the blast.
An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.
“Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway,” Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet on his verified account.
He said he had been to two of the attacked hotels and was at the scene at St. Anthony’s Shrine and described “horrible scenes.”
“I saw many body parts strewn all over,” he tweeted, adding that there were “many casualties including foreigners.”
“Please stay calm and indoors,” he added.
Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost blown off in the blast.
The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.
Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries.
The images could not immediately be verified.

Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.