STOCKHOLM: A carpet of flowers, candles and stuffed toys today covered the steps of the Swedish shopping plaza where a stolen truck mowed down shoppers earlier this week killing four persons and injuring 15 others.
"We talk, we don't fight," Marianne said just a stone's throw from the scene of the deadly attack in which the lorry slammed into the facade of a popular department store in Stockholm. The woman, from Stockholm, was one of more than 20,000 people who turned out for a vigil, two days after the assault.
A 39-year-old Uzbek suspected of carrying out the attack had previously been refused residency in Sweden and also "shown interest in extremist organisations" such as the Islamic State group, the police said.
Although the motive is not yet known, the method resembled previous terror attacks using vehicles in Nice, Berlin and London, all of them claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. "I think it's very important to stay strong together, against anything that endangers our society which is based on democracy," Marianne, who attended the vigil under sunny, spring skies with her elderly mother, added.
A woman handed out roses to two police officers guarding the square. Flags were lowered to half-mast in the vibrant city. Mikael Berggren, 36, also from Stockholm, who brought his two children, aged three and one-year-old to the vigil, said he would continue to live his life normally. "They're too young to understand what happened," Berggren told AFP as he gazed towards his children.
"The attack will not change anything." Called the "Love Manifestation", the vigil was created as an event on Facebook and attended by politicians, activists and performers. Karin Wanngard, Stockholm's mayor, who spoke at the event, described the city as "open, loving and tolerant".
"Horror cannot prevail, horror may never win, we will win instead...(with) openness and kindness!" the Social Democrat said. Daniel Holl, a 31-year-old German researcher living in Sweden, said he joined the rally to make a stand for unity among nations hit by attacks in recent years.
"Whether it's Berlin, Brussels, Paris or Stockholm, you feel the same, it has nothing to do with nationality," he told AFP. Gurgi Singh, 31, who moved to Stockholm from India a couple of months ago to learn Swedish, said he was not worried the attack would divide or polarise Sweden.
"Sweden or Stockholm is very supportive and people are always welcoming and helpful," he told AFP. "If it's going do anything, it's going to make it stronger than divided," he said, referring to Friday's attack. For Charlotte, a Stockholm resident, the attack brought people closer even if they didn't always show it.
"This is the capital of Sweden, a lot of people are busy, running around, and we don't even have time to say 'hi' sometimes because we are on the go," she told AFP. "This is so nice to see that people really care, even if we don't show it every day, you do care for the people around you."