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Sweden ends search for 'suspected foreign submarine'

Swedish marines seen earlier this week near Stockholm in a search for possible underwater activity. Credit: TT News Agency/PA

The Swedish military says it has called of its search for a suspected foreign submarine in waters off Stockholm after a week-long hunt.

"This means the bulk of ships and amphibious forces have returned to port," the armed forces said in a statement, adding that some smaller forces would remain in the area.

In what was the country's biggest military mobilisation since the Cold War, more than 200 troops, stealth ships and helicopters scoured waters after reports of foreign "underwater activity" - suspected to be a Russian sub.

Sweden steps up hunt for 'foreign underwater activity'

Crew members onboard a Swedish Navy fast-attack craft stand guard at the Stockholm archipelago. Credit: Reuters

Sweden has boosted its military presence in the Stockholm archipelago to search for "foreign underwater activity" in the county's largest mobilisation of troops and ships since the end of the Cold War.

The search in the Baltic Sea less than 31 miles (50 km) from Stockholm began on Friday and this operation comes amid increasing tension with Russia among the Nordic and Baltic states over the Ukraine crisis.

Finland last week accused the Russian navy of interfering with a Finnish environmental research vessel in international waters.

Swedish military spokesmen said the information about suspicious activity came from a trustworthy source and that more than 200 military personnel were involved in the search.

Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the search, said the military operation began after a radio transmission in Russian on an emergency frequency was intercepted.

Sweden officially recognises state of Palestine

Sweden is to recognise the state of Palestine in a move that will make it the first major member of the European Union to do so.

r Stefan Lofven (front 2nd L) said Sweden will recognise the state of Palestine. Credit: Reuters

The prime minister of the new centre-left government Stefan Lofven said the conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a "two-state solution".

"Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine," Lofven said during his inaugural address in parliament.

Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognised Palestine before they joined the EU, making Sweden the first country to acknowledge Palestine while being a member of the bloc.

More than 2,000 people were killed after a seven-week conflict between Israel and Hamas earlier this year.

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Rise in babies born with penis deformities in Sweden

Swedish scientists are struggling to explain a rise in cases of hypospadias, a condition that causes baby boys to be born with deformed penises.

A 40-year study conducted by researchers at Stockholm's Karolinksa Institute found that incidences of hypospadias in babies born after 1990 jumped significantly from 4.5 boys out of every 1,000 to eight per 1,000.

Scientists cannot explain why more baby boys are being born with penis deformities in Sweden. Credit: PA

The scientists said that they had taken into account factors such as low-birth weight that could be linked to the condition, but still could not explain the rise, The Local reported.

Hypospadias means the urethral opening is abnormally placed and can affect urination and sexual function later in life.

Lead researcher Dr Anna Skarin Nordenvall told Dagens Medicin newspaper that an unknown factor could be behind the deformities.

She said that scientists could not rule out the theory that chemicals - specifically environmental agents known as endocrine disruptors - could be responsible for the trend.

Endocrine disruptors, which are mostly man-made, can be found in pesticides, plastics and various household products.

One dead as huge Swedish wildfire burns for fifth day

Firefighters continue a battle a wildfire that has burned for five days in central Sweden.

The fire has burned 150 square kilometres (60 square miles) of forested land and killed at least one person.

A thousand people have been evacuated from villages and towns in the area threatened by the fire.

Amateur video uploaded online on Monday showed plumes of thick white and black smoke rising over a forest in Virsbo locality, in Vastmanland province.

Italy and France have sent firefighting planes to help contain the blaze, one of the biggest forest fires in Sweden in recent decades.

Police say the badly charred body of man in his 30s was found in the area earlier today.

Another man was taken to a hospital with serious burns.

It is unclear what sparked the fire but authorities say unusually hot weather and dry conditions are fuelling the flames.

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