The truck used in the attack being removed from the scene. Photo: Wikipedia Commons
27 Apr 2018

Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency releases report from the 2017 terrorist attack in Stockholm

Terrorism
World News
Communication Group
Civilian Deaths
Fire & Rescue World News

On April 7, 2017 just before noon, a truck was driven at high speed along the Drottninggatan in Stockholm to Åhléns City, a major shopping area, where the truck collided with the department store's facade and caught fire. In the attack five people were killed and another twelve were seriously injured.

 

Credits: The truck used in the attack being removed from the scene. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

The full MSB report from this event is only avaliable in Swedish. This is a translation of the summary of this document.

 

A suspected offender could be relatively quickly identified and arrested. The act is being investigated as a suspected terrorist offense.

The event affected many people and created great human suffering and concern. The event also affected several functions in society. Several socially important activities were particularly concerned, including police, health care, municipal emergency services and public transport.

On behalf of the government, MSB has evaluated the handling of the attack on 7 April 2017 in Stockholm. The task was to analyze and assess the overall management of the initial event process, the impact of management on society, capacity and how the spread of unconfirmed data and rumors affected the management. Based on the analysis, MSB would draw conclusions for future handling of similar events, major events or if several events occur simultaneously.

The evaluation covers the handling of April 7, 2017. Information covered by confidentiality has not been included in the assignment. The participants' own statements and evaluations have been the main basis.

The evaluation has been based on the conditions prevailing on April 7, 2017.

 

MSB's key conclusions for the future:

- Effective and coordinated action in cases of ongoing fatal violence requires the actors' community and systematic planning, education and practice.

-An effective emergency chain needs to be ensured.

- Emergency emergency preparedness needs to be developed.

- Communication between socially important players needs to be secured through a dedicated network for mobile data communication for public order, security, health and defense actors.

- Society needs effective channels for crisis communication with the public and actor-wide preparations for crisis communication in events with ongoing fatal violence in the public environment.

- Preparations are required for handling longer stops in public transport and that attacks could occur in public transport.

- Measures are needed to increase the robustness and capacity of the mobile networks.

- Society needs to strengthen its ability to identify and face advanced information impact in a serious event.

- Operator-wide preparation needs to include more and more simultaneous events with ongoing fatalities.

 

MSB's overall assessment

MSB's assessment is that society's overall management of the initial course of events in general worked well.
Individual efforts and risk-taking exceeded what society expects in many cases.

The police, health care and fire department responded quickly and proactively. That the event occurred daytime on a daily basis contributed to the quick response.

The event involved challenges that differ from the events that society usually manages. Experience from national and international events with ongoing fatalities shows the importance of rapid fuse of places and offenders, high ability to act despite unclear situation, rapid care and transport of injured in hospitals, and high preparedness for secondary attacks or sequelae.

MSB estimates that society's management in general worked well in these areas.

Many of the shortcomings encountered in handling the initial event process were not permanent during the rest of the operation.

There were shortcomings in the alarm chain. There were also shortcomings in the actors ability to develop and share scenes. Collaboration needs to be based more on both own and other stakeholders' needs, with a view to achieving common focus and coordination.

Responsible players overall had sufficient capacity to handle the initial event. The society lacked, in particular, sufficient capacity to initially meet public information needs, SOS Alarm  was on the verge of exceeding its capacity for the 112 service and the mobile network was overloaded.

A longer course of events would had been challenging. The short course of events meant that the impact of management on social functions was limited.

The same shortcomings as the handling of this event may have major consequences in larger or more simultaneous events. In order to achieve effective and coordinated efforts in major or multiple simultaneous events with ongoing fatal violence, a significant boost in society is required. It is important that the players can work together quickly and ensure endurance.

The collective resources of society need to be utilized through the actors' community and systematic planning, education and practice.


Some scenario with multiple simultaneous events with ongoing fatal violence has never been practiced. MSB estimates that actors need to undertake joint preparations that also include major and multiple simultaneous events with ongoing fatalities. The success is that every player has the ability to see the whole.

The police authorities intend to conduct an actors' community exercise in autumn 2018, with subsequent evaluation. MSB welcomes the initiative. The evaluation of the exercise should be the basis for assessing

The police's responsibility for actor community practice in this area should be permanent.
Much was done in handling the attack on Drottninggatan, but the conditions were also good and many experiences are specific to Stockholm County. Therefore, handling of the event is not dimensioning to assess Sweden's ability to handle terrorist attacks. On the other hand, experience is valuable for developing the ability throughout the country.

Experiences are also valuable in the planning of civil defense.

Information about the event on Drottninggatan is spreading rapidly in both traditional and social media. Even authorities continually informed about the event on their web pages. Information was spread across several channels and contained both confirmed and unconfirmed data, some of which were found to be incorrect.
 

Purpose and goal

The purpose of this evaluation is to draw conclusions from the future based on the management of this event. The goal is that the evaluation's conclusions and assessments are used as the basis for decisions on further actions and help strengthen the ability to handle similar, larger or more simultaneous events.