The head of Sweden's security police called the threat of terrorism in Europe the 'new normal' on Friday as his Spanish counterparts continued to investigate Thursday's deadly attacks in Spain.
There were no immediate reports of any Swedish nationals injured when vans drove into pedestrians in Barcelona and Cambrils, killing at least 14 and wounding some 100 others, but citizens from more than 30 countries were among the dead and wounded, reported The Local Spain.
Sweden's security services Säpo said they were ready to offer assistance if needed.
The attacks were carried out in a way similar to several other previous attacks in Europe and elsewhere, including Sweden where memories remain fresh of the Stockholm truck attack on April 7th earlier this year, where a man drove a stolen truck down a pedestrianized shopping street, killing five people.
“European security services face an historic challenge. We have a new normal situation in Europe when it comes to terrorism, and the threat to Sweden remains high,” said Thornberg.
Säpo said the current terror threat level in Sweden remains unchanged at level three on a scale from one to five, where five is the highest. It has remained at this level since 2010, apart from a brief period between mid-November 2015 and March 2016, when it was temporarily raised to level four.
In a separate incident in Finland which also grabbed international headlines on Friday, police reinforced security at Helsinki airport and train stations after several people were stabbed in the centre of bilingual city Åbo (known as Turku in Finnish and Åbo in Swedish) in the afternoon. Police shot one suspect in the leg and detained him, reported Finnish news site Yle.
In the wake of the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Poland's interior minister said Europe should wake up to the “clash of civilizations” where Muslim enclaves form “support bases” for terrorists. He claimed Poland is safe as it had prevented the emergence of such "enclaves."
“We are dealing with a clash of civilizations,” Mariusz Blaszczak told state broadcaster TVP Info.
Blaszczak said he asked his country’s security services what they were doing to prevent similar incidents and noted that Poland is safe because “we do not have Muslim communities which are enclaves, which are a natural support base for Islamic terrorists.”
The official, a member of the ruling rightwing Law and Justice Party (PiS), maintained Europe should “wake up” to what is happening.
A “possibility” to prevent terrorism is closing in Europe, according to the minister. Blaszczak also lashed out at the refugee resettling scheme in the EU, claiming it's “encouraging millions of people to come to Europe,” and that would effectively have tragic consequences.
The politician voiced his anti-immigration stance earlier this year when he suggested that Muslim settlements in Western Europe started from small numbers with Brussels now trying to shift responsibility.
Warsaw has been vehemently opposed to resettling migrants under a scheme advocated by Brussels and approved by the majority of European countries. Poland, along with Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia have firmly rejected the so-called refugee quotas, deepening East-West cracks in the 28-member bloc.
The blunt outburst comes a day after the deadly attack on a tourist area in Barcelona which left 13 people dead and more than 100 others injured.
Authorities arrested suspect Driss Oukabir who, according to media reports, was reportedly born in Morocco but later moved to Marseille, France, and eventually to the Catalan town of Ripoli, some 80 miles north of Barcelona. However, the 28-year-old denies being involved in the attack and says his younger brother, 17-year-old Moussa Oukabir, stole his identification in order to rent the van that was used to plow into pedestrians on the city's busy La Rambla district.
Hours later, a second attack took place in the resort town of Cambrils, injuring seven people, one of whom later died. Police killed all five attackers there. All of them were identified as being of Moroccan origin, with one of them being the younger Oukabir.
READ MORE: Catalonia police identify neutralized attackers, intensify manhunt for remaining terror cell member
Three Moroccans and a Spaniard have been detained by authorities, with Spanish police saying the suspects were preparing an even bigger attack, and that at least one member of the cell, 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub, remains at large.
With every new terrorist attack carried out by non-EU nationals, the European public and politicians are showing growing discontent and unease, with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland refusing to abide by the EU's quota system for distributing migrants across the bloc.
Brussels has threatened legal action against the dissenting countries, filing a formal “infringement procedure” in June which could result in financial penalties imposed by the European Court of Justice.