A man lights a candle outside the school in Trollhattan, a day after the attack in which two people were killed. AP photo.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Kurds in Europe praised the school assistant of Kurdish origin who threw himself in front of children, as he became the first victim of a deadly school attack in Sweden.
Lavin Eskandar, a 20-year-old Feili Kurd who was working at the school in Trollhattan, north of Gothenburg, was cut down with a sword by the killer, who also slayed a 15-year-old pupil and wounded two other people in Thursday’s attack.
The killer, wearing a Darth Vader facemask from the movie Star Wars, was identified as 21-year-old Anton Lundin Pettersson. He was later shot by police, who said the attack had a racist motive.
The school attack has shocked the entire country, with many praising the slain Kurd for being the first to intervene.
"He is a hero," one of the students who managed to get away, told Rudaw.
Eskandar had previously worked as a teaching assistant at the school, and was back as a student assistant to one of the children.
Witnesses said he screamed at the children to run before trying to overpower the attacker.
Eskandar’s brother, Leith, said that his slain sibling tried to protect the children.
"All I know is that he protected others and not himself, and that he tried to protect the children. He was the only one who managed to stop the attacker," he told the Swedish newspaper Expressen.
In the Kurdish community in Sweden, home to some 80,000 Kurds, people are proud of Lavin.
"As a Kurd, I am certainly very proud of his work and his attempts to save other people," said Pirshang Tiwana, an Iraqi Kurd and a board member from The Federation of Kurdish Associations in Sweden (FKKS).
Sukri Demir, a Turkish Kurd and former member of the city council in the Swedish city of Solna who has been active in various Kurdish associations, said he was very shocked by the attack. He also praised Eskandar.
"That a person sacrifices himself for his students is a great thing, regardless of their ethnicity," he said.
King Carl Gustaf of Sweden stated he had learned of the events "with great dismay and sorrow".
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven arrived in the town where the attack took place, saying it was a "black day for Sweden".
"I think of the victims and their families, students and staff, and the whole of the affected community. No words can describe what they are going through right now. We must ensure that they receive all the support they need," he told the press.
Trollhättan is an industrial city in western Sweden, about 75 kilometers north of Gothenburg, the country's second-largest city.
School attacks are rare in Sweden, with only one incident in the past 20 years where a student was shot.