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Search for Armed Men Spotted Near U.S. Ambassador

June 18, 1986

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ A bodyguard assigned to U.S. Ambassador Gregory J. Newell opened fire on two armed men spotted near a terrace cocktail party at a villa where the diplomat was having dinner, police said today.

A Swedish policeman, one of two policemen assigned to protect Newell, ″spotted and fired three bullets″ at the two men Tuesday night outside the residence of a Swedish industrialist, said criminal superintendent Rune Rytters.

Newell, 36, and Ambassador Andres Rozental of Mexico were among some 25 guests who gathered for a dinner party at the villa of Swedish industrialist Bo Ax:son Johnson in Varmdo, a secluded waterside area east of Stockholm.

Rytters told The Associated Press one bodyguard came across the two men about 50 yards from the villa, where Newell and the rest of the guests where having cocktails on an open terrace.

The two intruders, who were armed with rifles, fled into the woods after the bodyguard shot at them, Rytters said.

He denied some media reports that the intruders also had opened fire. ″That’s absolutely wrong,″ he said.

As to the reason for the intruders’ presence near the villa, Rytters said: ″It could be anything from poachers to a planned attack against the American ambassador.″

Duty officer Ingvar Eklund of the local police district told the AP earlier that ″we must assume that they were planning to attack the American ambassador. He was the most controversial person there.″

Rytters said about 30 police officers were searching for the intruders with dogs and speedboats. He said police were looking for two men who were about 30 years old, dark-haired and of medium height.

Police have received many tips and detained one person for questioning, Rytters said. He declined to elaborate.

The U.S. Embassy in Stockholm said it had ″no comment at all″ on the incident. Ulf Hogberg, assistant to the embassy’s press attache, referred all questions to the Stockholm police.

Newell became ambassador in Sweden last December. He worked on President Reagan’s re-election campaign and was one of several assistant secretaries of state in the Reagan administration before his appointment as ambassador.

Johnson, 68, is a member of one of Sweden’s richest families and heads Nordstjernan, a company with interests in shipping, construction, steel and retail operations.

Kaj Lindgren, Nordstjernan’s information director, said Johnson did not want to comment on the incident. ″There is a police investigation going on so he naturally does not want to comment,″ Lindgren said.

The spokesman said he believed the dinner party continued after the shots were fired.

Attacks on public figures are extremely rare in Sweden. However, in February, an unidentified assailant gunned down Prime Minister Olof Palme as he and his wife walked along a Stockholm street. The 59-year-old politician’s assassin has not yet been found.

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