A masked man wielding knives stabbed four people at a primary school in Sweden, killing a teacher and a student and injuring two others before police shot and killed him, local media reported.
Students fled from the 21-year-old assailant Thursday morning at the Kronan school in Trollhattan, near Gothenborg, Sweden's second-largest city. In a statement, police said the attack took place in the school's cafe area, which is open to the public.
A police spokesman, Stefan Gustavsson, told The Associated Press the attacker had a large knife, possibly two, including what may have been a sword.
Health authorities in Trollhattan said one teacher died after being wounded in the attack and two students, aged 11 and 15, were seriously wounded with cuts. A second person, later identified as a student, later died in surgery, according to The Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
Meanwhile another teacher suffered non-fatal wounds in the attack, according to Swedish news site The Local.
Dr. Lars Spetz, of the Trollhattan hospital, told a press conference the wounded teacher had been stabbed in the abdomen while the boys were stabbed in the abdomen, liver and chest. During their surgeries, Spetz said the victims "hover between life and death."
The school includes kindergarten through middle school age students, the paper reported.
"The assailant knocked on two classroom doors and he attacked the two students who opened the doors," police investigator Thord Haraldsson told reporters, according to The Local
The killings shocked the Scandinavian nation, where violent crime is a rarity.
"This was not an attack against an individual school, it was an attack against the whole of Sweden," said Education Minister Gustav Fridolin, The Local reported.
"Many pupils throughout the country will now need to be given the chance to express their concern and ask questions. We must be able to give our children a safe school environment," he said.
The incident led to panic as parents rushed to the school after hearing news of the attack.
“A lot of people are crying because they’re so worried. It’s very chaotic; parents are running around to find their children,” Ribana Boskovic, 20, told The Local. Boskovic said her younger sister attends the school.
“My mom is feeling really bad at the moment, even though my sister is safe I’m very stressed and worried. I can’t understand why it happened here.”
TV images showed several ambulances and police cars on the scene as emergency service staffers dealt with distraught adults and teenagers. A police cordon was marked out with white tape.
Another police spokesman, Thomas Fuxborg, told the AP that the attacker carried “at least one knife-like object,” in addition to other objects. Fuxborg said police fired two shots, one of which hit the attacker, who was taken to a nearby hospital. He died at about 4 p.m. local time, about six hours after the morning attack, according to The Local.
“I saw the murderer, he was wearing a mask and had a sword. Our teacher got stabbed,” a teenage student at the school told The Local.
“The murderer started chasing me, I ran into another classroom. If I had not run, I would have been murdered. I’m feeling really scared. Everyone’s scared here,” the student said.
The school has 400 students, ranging from pre-school to high school. Fuxborg could not say whether the man had any connection with the school.
Swedish media said teachers had expressed worries that the school was too open, with a cafe for adults on the premises that meant the school could not control who comes in. The Dagens Nyheter newspaper said students must go through the cafe to reach the school's own cafeteria and other parts of the building.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven canceled his schedule and was heading to Trollhattan.
Al Jazeera and wire services