- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2003

STOCKHOLM — Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, touted as a future prime minister, died yesterday from multiple stab wounds, the second Swedish politician to be killed in the Scandinavian country in 17 years in a rare act of public violence.

Police were hunting for a 6-foot man who they said stabbed Mrs. Lindh in an upscale Stockholm department store Wednesday as she shopped unguarded with a friend. Borders and ferries were being monitored closely, but no arrests have been made.

Mrs. Lindh, 46, died at 5:29 a.m. at Karolinska Hospital from severe internal bleeding and wounds to her stomach and liver after more than 12 hours of surgery.

Police do not believe the attack was politically motivated, despite the fact that it came just three days before Swedes vote in a referendum on adopting the euro. Mrs. Lindh was a leading campaigner for replacing the Swedish krona with the common currency — an issue that had inspired vehement opposition.

Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson said the Sunday referendum would continue as scheduled, but ordered all campaigning to end immediately.

“We want to encourage everyone to vote on Sunday,” he told reporters, adding that leaders had considered postponing the vote for a month, or even a year, but decided against it.

Mrs. Lindh’s death cast a pall across the Scandinavian country of 9 million, whose residents always have had easy access to their leaders. Mrs. Lindh had no bodyguards, like Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was killed in 1986 while walking home from a movie theater with his wife.

Only Mr. Persson and King Carl XVI Gustaf have permanent security details.

Mrs. Lindh had been head of the Foreign Ministry since 1998, serving as environmental minister before that. She was a member of the Riksdag from 1982 to 1985. She was married and had two children.

Choking on his words as he announced Mrs. Lindh’s death, Mr. Persson said the country’s tradition of openness was forever damaged by the killing.

“The attack against her also hurt the society we’ve built up and which we want to live in,” he said.

Many Swedes who went to bed believing Mrs. Lindh would survive were stunned to learn of her death. Some wept openly on the streets, where posters of Mrs. Lindh were displayed for the euro referendum.

In the Riksdag, or parliament, lawmakers held a moment of silence, and flags flew at half-staff across the country. Many churches were kept open and a memorial service was planned for the night at Uppsala Cathedral.

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