Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh has been stabbed in an attack in a Stockholm department store.
Lindh is one of Sweden's most popular politicians
She suffered wounds in the chest, stomach and arms. She has been in surgery for several hours, undergoing treatment for internal bleeding and liver damage.
The attack comes days before Swedes vote in a referendum on whether to join the euro. Ms Lindh had been vigorously campaigning for a Yes vote.
Both the Yes and No campaigns have suspended their activities following the attack.
"The attack on her is an attack on our open society and
because of this I am feeling great anger and dismay," said Prime Minister Goran Persson.
Ms Lindh had been shopping unaccompanied by bodyguards when the attack took place at around 1600 local time (1400GMT).
She was carried from the Nordiska Kompaniet store on a stretcher.
"She laid on the floor and it looked as if a tall man, wearing a
peaked cap, was hitting her," eyewitness Hanna Sundberg told AP news agency.
"But when he ran away, he threw away a knife."
Police were said to be searching for a man wearing a camouflage
jacket who fled from the store.
"There is nothing pointing at a political motive right
now," said police spokesman Bjoern Pihlblad.
However, Mr Persson said security had been tightened around government buildings.
Ms Lindh, 46, one of Sweden's most popular politicians, has been foreign minister since 1998. She is married with two children.
In 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot dead as he walked home with his wife in Stockholm.
The killing has never formally been solved, although a man cleared of the crime later wrote to a newspaper confessing.