Swedish crime writer Mankell dies at 67

STOCKHOLM - Bestselling Swedish crime writer Henning Mankel, whose detective character Kurt Wallander became a worldwide phenomenon, died on Monday after a battle with cancer. He was 67.

Mankell, who had been suffering from cancer for several years, "died in his sleep this morning" in Sweden's second city of Gothenburg, independent publishing house Leopard said on its website.

Mankell's collection of dark novels about the Swedish police inspector Wallander brought the author international fame after it was made into a television series by the BBC starring Oscar-nominated actor and director Kenneth Branagh.

"Henning Mankell was one of the great Swedish authors of our time, loved by readers in Sweden and all over the world," said the statement from Leopard, which Mankell co-founded in 2001.

Mankell, who lived in both Sweden and Mozambique, published more than 40 novels, plays and children's books, selling around 40 million copies around the world.

The Wallander series itself won numerous awards and contributed to the massive global interest in Scandinavian crime and thriller novels.

Mankell first revealed he had cancer in January 2014, saying it was discovered when he underwent treatment for a slipped disc.

"A few days later... I had it in black and white: it was serious. I had one tumour in the back of my neck and one in my left lung. The cancer could also have spread to other parts of my body," he wrote at the time.

Menkell also joined a flotilla in 2010 trying to break the Israeli blockade and take aid to the Gaza Strip.

He said he wanted to create a situation where "Palestinians are not treated like second-class citizens in their own country, a sort of apartheid system." Mankell leaves a widow Eva Bergman, 70, the daughter of Swedish cinema great Ingmar Bergman, and his son Jon.