DW reporter Michael Da Silva happened to be in Stockholm when a truck drove into a department store in the center of the Swedish capital. He recounts his impressions of the scene and its aftermath.
My hotel, the Scandic near Central Station, is around 250 meters from the site where a truck plunged into a department store, leaving devastation and deaths in its path.
I arrived in Stockholm Friday morning, and rather than go for a walk and explore a city I was visiting for the first time as I had intended, the effects of an early flight from Berlin led me to stay at the hotel, have a bite to eat and a power nap. It was a decision that probably prevented me being much closer to the devastation, which occurred on Drottninggatan - a bustling, pedestrianized shopping street.
It soon became apparent that something was wrong. From my eighth-floor room I could see people scampering down the street screaming as heavily armed police sealed off the streets around the hotel and ushered pedestrians into its lobby. People were running in all directions as reports of a shooting at a separate location caused panic. I saw figures darting both ways down Kungsgatan, unsure where to find refuge.
All the while, the armed policemen were crouching around the corner of the street with their fingers on the trigger - at this point the suspect was still on the loose. Workers in the building across the street were fixated as they watched the drama unfold from a roof terrace. A plume of smoke billowed high into the sky and the wind was blowing it down Kungsgatan, which was closed for around three hours after the attack.
The police were quick in their response, with helicopters patrolling the skies within minutes and Central Station being shut down completely within less than an hour. Quite a feat given how many people apparently use the station for travel and a meeting point.
Given the violent attacks we've seen in recent times in Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and London, this kind of attack should no longer come as a surprise. But somehow Stockholm seems like an unlikely target and, with police cars still blocking the streets around the Scandic and public transport shut down, it could be some time before this usually peaceful city is back to normal.