A man was shot dead in a central Stockholm pub late Thursday in what police believe to be the third assassination in five months in a gang battle that has stunned the quiet Swedish capital.

About 60 people looked on horrified as two men armed with automatic weapons burst into the Brother Tuck pub in southern Stockholm and gunned down the 36-year-old man, described as of Yugoslav origin.The gunmen fled in a car that was waiting outside.

"It was clearly an assassination," police spokesman Kurt Hansson said.

The victim, who was born in Belgrade but had taken Swedish citizenship, was known to police. He worked in Stockholm's restaurant business.

Stockholm police were investigating the possibility that the murder was linked to a spate of killings and murder attempts in the city this year.

It began Feb. 4 when restaurateur Dragan Joksovic, 41, also of Yugoslav origin, was shot dead in broad daylight in the restaurant of the Solvalla race course in Stockholm's northern suburbs.

The gunman, a 21-year-old Finnish man, immediately handed himself over to police.

Swedish newspapers were filled with speculation Friday about gangland rivalry between Joksovic and the latest murder victim, but police declined to comment.

"We cannot say how these two men were connected. All we can say is that they were linked through the restaurant business in Stockholm," police spokesman Mikael Lindberg told Reuters.

Since Joksovic's murder, Stockholm residents have been shocked by a further spate of violence.

On May 13, a grocer in his mid-20s survived a shooting attempt while working out at a gym in central Stockholm. He was shot in his legs.

Police said the man had been with Joksovic when he was killed.

Less than a month later, on June 6, a 45-year-old man from Iraq was shot down on a Stockholm street with six bullets. This murder was again linked to the gang world.

An earlier attempt on the 45-year-old failed when a car bomb exploded in his vehicle outside a Stockholm hospital - on a day he had lent the car to a relative.

Two people were injured in the blast.

Police declined to comment on possible links between the three murders and a large-scale trade in smuggled cigarettes.

"There is a large amount of cigarettes smuggled into Sweden, and the police as well as customs are involved in an ongoing investigation," Lindberg said.

"Some of this is organized crime. We can't comment on the links between this and the recent murders."