20:25 GMT12 April 2021
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    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)

    Following the truck attack on April 7, when four people were killed and 15 more were injured, the city of Stockholm is betting on lions to make its best-known pedestrian street secure from terrorism.

    At present, Drottningsgatan Street, where people were mowed down in a violent truck attack in early April, has 38 concrete lion statues. After the terrorist attack, the lions were decorated with flowers as city authorities went on to discuss the impact of terrorism on Stockholm's future as an open city.

    One of the requirements which have been set forth by the Stockholm authorities was that the most visited pedestrian streets be protected by obstacles in order to make a vehicular attack more difficult. To preserve the elegant look of Stockholm, those obstacles will be modeled as concrete lions, which incidentally happen to be part of the Swedish regal insignia.

    Extensive obstacles are already present at the Prime Minister's office at Rosenbad and the House of Parliament. However, the kind of 24/7 protection one can find in the government district was dismissed for being too expensive to set up and take care of, and didn't contribute to Stockholm's pleasant atmosphere. Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism researcher from the National Defense College, pointed out that a certain level of security can be guaranteed without great intervention into the city's everyday life.

    "Emergency vehicles must be able to reach even the pedestrian streets. Several of the pedestrian streets must be also reachable by distribution and delivery vehicles. We will make it harder, though, to speed up for trucks, for instance," Daniel Helldén of the Stockholm Traffic Council told the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

    Therefore, Drottninggatan's pride of 38 lions will become larger. If technically possible, the traffic council will also order heavier lions. The idea is to arrange the lions in such a way that a car will be forced to swing between smaller and heavier lions. Other notable pedestrian streets will receive more permanent and summertime protection, which will feature lions and other obstacles.

    "The wooden constructions with plants or seats we install in summertime are no easy obstacles to overrun for a car," Daniel Helldén pointed out.

    Most of the streets in the Old Town, however, already have a natural protection against truck attacks due to their extreme narrowness.

    Lions have been featured on the coat of arms of Sweden since the Middle Ages, after first being introduced by the House of Bjelbo, which produced a great number of bishops, jarls and noblemen only to merge into one of Sweden's most long-lived dynasties, known as the House of Folkung.

    Over the course of last year, vehicles were used as a deadly weapon in several terrorist attacks in Europe. There is also evidence that terrorist organizations like Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda have manuals for vehicular attacks against large crowds.


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    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)


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    pedestrian, terrorism threat, Scandinavia, Sweden, Stockholm
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