STOCKHOLM (AP) – Swedish police said on Thursday they were looking for 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 for public destruction and has not yet been located, police said. Authorities have not identified him, but Swedish media reported the suspect was a man in his 50s who had lived with his mother in the apartment building in Goteborg, Sweden’s second largest city.
“We still don’t know what caused the explosion,” senior police official Anders Borjesson told a press conference. “The investigation is far from over. We still have a lot of things ahead of us. “
Borjesson said the heat and lack of oxygen inside the building made it difficult for investigators to do their jobs.
He declined to give details of the suspect.
The owner was trying to evict the man and his mother from their apartment, according to the Aftonbladet daily. Local newspaper Goteborgs-Posten reported that an eviction was scheduled for Tuesday, the day the explosion occurred.
Aftonbladet said police charged the man with several alleged crimes a week before the explosion. The newspaper also reported that after not being allowed to see his mother at a nursing home due to pandemic restrictions, the suspect harassed several people, including the owner of the building.
The explosion rocked the building in central Gothenburg early Tuesday. The fires that followed spread to several apartments and hundreds of residents were evacuated. At least 140 apartments were damaged.
One of the four seriously injured people remained in intensive care on Wednesday, the main hospital in Gothenburg told Swedish TV station SVT.
Later Thursday, police reported a bomb threat against a medical center near the building. Patients and workers were evacuated, and a bomb squad and firefighters were on the scene, police spokesman Hans-Jorgen Ostler said. A police helicopter flew over the area.
This 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 on “threats against a group.”
Police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg told reporters it was not clear whether the police operation was linked to the suspect in the explosion, but did not give details.
Fuxborg said they also launched a manhunt and this led them to a nearby apartment complex in Gothenburg where they were to search the home of “a friend” of the suspect. He said they were acting on a tip. It was not immediately clear whether any arrests had been made.
Swedish media quickly focused on the possibility that the explosion could be linked to warring gangs. Sweden has seen an increase in violence between organized criminal gangs.
Police and prosecutors said Thursday that “at this time, there is no indication that the explosion has any links to gang crime.”