STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish police said Thursday they are seeking a man in connection with an explosion and fire at a large apartment building this week that injured 16 people, four of them seriously.
The man is wanted on suspicion of public destruction and hasn’t been located yet, police said. Authorities didn’t identify him, but Swedish media reported that the suspect was a man in his 50s who had lived with his mother in the building in Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city.
“We still do not know what caused the explosion,” senior police officer Anders Borjesson said at a news conference. “The investigation is far from over. We still have a lot ahead of us.”
Borjesson said that the warmth and the lack of oxygen inside the building had made it difficult for the investigators to do their work.
He declined to give details on the suspect.
The property owner had been trying to evict the man and his mother from their apartment, according to daily newspaper Aftonbladet. The local Goteborgs-Posten newspaper said an eviction was planned for Tuesday, the day the explosion occurred.
Aftonbladet said police had charged the man with several alleged crimes a week before the blast. The paper also reported that after he wasn’t allowed to see his mother at a nursing home because of pandemic restrictions, the suspect harassed several people, including the owner of the building.
The explosion rocked the building in central Goteborg early Tuesday. Ensuing blazes spread to several apartments, and hundreds of residents were evacuated. At least 140 apartments were damaged.
One of the four people seriously injured remained in intensive care Wednesday, Goteborg’s main hospital told Swedish broadcaster SVT.
Later Thursday, police reported a bomb threat against a medical center in the vicinity of apartment building. Patients and employees were evacuated, and a bomb squad and firefighters were at the scene, police spokesperson Hans-Jorgen Ostler said. A police helicopter hovered above the area.
That police operation also led to the evacuation of a kindergarten near the medical center. Firefighters were seen lifting children over a fence.
The police department later said in a statement that officers found “no dangerous objects,” but the department would provide information about “threats against a group.”
Police spokesperson Thomas Fuxborg told reporters that it wasn’t clear whether the police operation was connected to the explosion suspect, but he didn’t give details.
Fuxborg said they also had initiated a manhunt and that led them to a nearly apartment complex in Goteborg where they were to search the home “of a friend” to the suspect.” He said they were acting on a tip. It wasn’t immediately clear if any arrests were made.
Swedish media had quickly had focused on the possibility that the explosion could be related to feuding gangs. Sweden has seen a rise in violence between organized criminal gangs.
Police and prosecutors said Thursday that “at present, there is no indication that the blast has links to gang crime.”