Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said a possible ‘terrorist’ motive was being investigated.
A man armed with an axe attacked and wounded eight people in a southern town in Sweden on Wednesday before being shot and arrested.
“We heard a scream from the street. Then we saw a man enter the store, shouting that he had been stabbed,” Asa Karlqvist, owner of a florist shop, told local newspaper Vetlanda-Posten.
“Blood was pouring from his shoulder so we got towels and applied pressure on the wound,” she said.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said a possible “terrorist” motive was being investigated.
“In the light of what has emerged so far in the police investigation, prosecutors have initiated a preliminary investigation into terrorist crimes,” he said.
Shortly after his statement, investigators at a police news conference said they started a preliminary investigation into attempted murder with details “that make us investigate any terrorist motives”.
“But at the moment I cannot go into details,” regional police chief Malena Grann said.
Police said the man in his 20s attacked people in the small town of Vetlanda, 190km (118 miles) southeast of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. His motive was not immediately known.
The man was shot by police, who said the condition of those attacked and of the perpetrator was not immediately known. Officials did not provide details on the identity of the suspect, who was taken to hospital.
Local police chief Jonas Lindell said “it seems that the injuries are not life-threatening” but could not give further details.
The events took place in downtown Vetlanda with police saying they got calls just after 14:00 GMT about a man assaulting people with an axe. Police also said there are five crime scenes in this town of roughly 13,000.
Lofven condemned “this terrible act” and added Sweden’s domestic security agency SAPO was also working on the case.
”They continuously assess whether there are reasons to take security-enhancing measures and are prepared to do so if necessary,” he said in a statement.