Europe

Sweden attack: Uzbekistan 'warned West of IS link'

Person of interest in Stockholm attack: a young, hooded man Image copyright Swedish police
Image caption Police released this CCTV image of Rakhmat Akilov following the attack

Uzbekistan says it warned the West that the man accused of carrying out last week's lorry attack in Stockholm was recruited by so-called Islamic State (IS) after leaving Uzbekistan in 2014.

The Uzbek Foreign Minister, Abdulaziz Kamilov, said information about Rakhmat Akilov had been "passed to one of our Western partners, so that the Swedish side could be informed".

It is rare for the Uzbek authorities to disclose such intelligence details.

Mr Akilov has confessed to the crime.

The Swedish security service says it can neither confirm nor deny receiving such information from Uzbekistan.

Mr Akilov, 39, left Uzbekistan for Sweden in 2014. He sought residency there, but in December 2016 he was told that he had four weeks to leave the country, police said.

He disappeared and, in February, was officially put on a wanted list.

Just hours after the attack last Friday he was arrested. At a court hearing he confessed to a "terrorist crime".

Four people were killed when a lorry was driven into a department store on one of Stockholm's busiest streets, Drottninggatan.

Mr Kamilov told a news conference that the suspect had "actively urged his compatriots to travel to Syria in order to fight for IS". Mr Akilov had used online messaging services, he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The lorry sped down a street full of shoppers and crashed into a department store on 7 April

Earlier, an Uzbek security source quoted by the Reuters news agency said Mr Akilov himself had tried to travel to Syria in 2015 to fight for IS. However, he was stopped on the Turkey-Syria border and was sent back to Sweden.

No group has claimed to be behind the Stockholm attack.

Mr Akilov reportedly ran from the scene of the attack, still covered in blood and glass, and was arrested later in a northern suburb of Stockholm.

According to reports, he had left a wife and four children behind in Uzbekistan in order to earn money to send home.

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