Friday 22 September 2017

'There is a great sense of community after attack' - Irishman living in Stockholm

Irish journalist Philip O'Connor (Image: Twitter)
Irish journalist Philip O'Connor (Image: Twitter)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

An Irish journalist based in Stockholm has said today's horror attack, which killed four and left 15 injured, has united his adopted city.

Phillip O'Connor (45), who has been living in Sweden for almost 18 years, said he was not in the city at the time of the attack but he rushed into town in the immediate aftermath.

"I got about 4km away from the city centre and had to ditch the car and walk in. The police had the place locked down so quickly," he said.

"There was quite a large section of the city centre blocked off but I did get in a bit closer and got to see the front of the department store."

"It was very eerie. Everyone was walking out of the city when I was walking in but things quietened down very quickly.

"Now it's Friday night and the clocks just went back, the streets should be full of people enjoying themselves but everything is closed."

He said that people in Stockholm have displayed a sense of community after the attack.

"I saw a radio reporter interviewing a woman earlier and afterwards he gave her a spontaneous hug. Swedish people are generally very stoic but today you saw people interacting and saying to each other 'we'll be alright'," he said.

"There was a great sense of community and now we are seeing people saying 'we are so proud of the city', " he said.

"It's been a uniting thing."

Despite a suspected terror incident in 2011 near where today's incident occurred, Mr O'Connor said people were not expecting the city could become a target.

"There was always a risk," he said, adding that it was the random nature of the event that was shocking.

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