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BREAKING NEWS

Three Central Asians charged in Sweden with plotting terrorist crime

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Three Central Asian men have been charged in Sweden with plotting to commit a terrorist crime as well as - along with three others - financing the Islamic State militant group, prosecutors said on Thursday.

"Three (of the suspects) acquired and stored large quantities of chemicals and other equipment in order to, among other things, kill and harm other people. If the terrorist crime had been carried out, it could have seriously hurt Sweden," the Stockholm prosecutor's office said in a statement.

It said the six men were from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, both mainly Muslim, former Soviet republics.

Five are in Swedish custody while the sixth man was freed pending trial; all have denied wrongdoing, the statement said.

Thomas Olson, lawyer for one of the accused, told Swedish Radio his client had bought a large amount of chemicals from a bankrupt firm in order to try to sell it on, without success.

"My client left very detailed explanations as to why he was in possession of these chemicals, explanations that have been confirmed by all outsiders," Olson said.

Prosecutors were not available for further comment.

In June, Rakhmat Akilov, an Uzbek asylum seeker in Sweden, was sentenced to life in prison for killing five people in Stockholm with a hijacked truck in 2017.

He stated during the trial that he wanted to punish Sweden for its part in the global fight against Islamic State, which has claimed a string of deadly attacks across western Europe since 2015.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Johan Sennero; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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