x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

British police search address over Sweden bombings

British police were searching an address in southern England on Monday in connection with the weekend bombings in Sweden.

LONDON // British police were searching an address in southern England on Monday in connection with weekend bombings in Sweden, amid reports the perpetrator used to live in the area.

Officers from London's Metropolitan Police began the search in Bedfordshire under anti-terrorism laws just before 11pm (2300 GMT) on Sunday, said a force spokesman.

No arrests had been made and no hazardous material found, he added.

The search came after a car bombing and suspected suicide blast in Stockholm on Saturday.

It also followed press reports that Taymour Abdel Wahab -- named as the man behind the blasts by Islamist website Shumukh al-Islam -- had studied and lived in Luton, Bedfordshire, just north of London.

Police refused to say whether the search was taking place in Luton.

The Guardian newspaper reported the man was an Iraqi-born Swede, and other reports said his family still lived in Luton.

"I used to see him around often. He didn't say much but seemed nice. I used to see him walking with his kids," Tahir Hussain, 33, a taxi driver in the town told The Daily Telegraph.

"I was shocked when I heard what happened because I never thought he could do such a thing."

Saturday's explosions came as Christmas shoppers crowded in a busy pedestrian quarter of the Swedish capital. One blast killed one person, while a car bombed exploded nearby and injured two people.

British media reports said Taymour Abdel Wahab had studied sports therapy at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, around 50 kilometres north of London, and had continued living in the town in recent years.

The university has made no comment on the matter.

The wife and two young girls of Taymour Abdel Wahab -- said to be in his late 20s -- were still living in Luton, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph reported.

Neighbours told the Telegraph that he had been seen at his house in Luton as recently as two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Taymour Abdel Wahab moved from Baghdad to Sweden in 1992 and then to Britain in 2001 to study, according to the paper.

A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police confirmed a search was under way: "Officers executed a search warrant under the Terrorism Act 2000 at an address in Bedfordshire."

There had been no arrests and no hazardous materials had been found, he added.

"We are confirming that this is in connection with the incident in Stockholm," added the spokesman.

The website Shumukh al-Islam named him as the perpetrator of the attack on Sunday.

"It is our brother, mujahid Taymour Abdel Wahab, who carried out the martyrdom operation in Stockholm," it said.

Sweden's intelligence agency Saepo has refused to comment on the website's claim.

But Anders Thornberg, head of the security unit at Saepo, said the explosions were being investigated as a "terrorist crime."

He added: "We suspect that it was a suicide attack."

Britain's Home Office, or interior ministry, also refused to comment on the website's claims.

"We remain in close contact with the Swedish authorities," a spokeswoman told AFP. "It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation at this time."