In response to a recent surge in gang-related violence claiming at least 11 lives in September, Sweden’s Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, has made decisive moves. He convened a high-level meeting with the leaders of the armed forces and the police commissioner, aiming to address the escalating crisis.
This urgent action follows two separate fatal shootings in Stockholm on Wednesday and the tragic death of a woman in her 20s, believed to be an innocent bystander, in a house bombing in Uppsala during the early hours of Thursday.
In a rare televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Kristersson declared, “This is a challenging time for Sweden. A 25-year-old woman went to bed last night on an entirely ordinary evening but never woke up. We will pursue and defeat these criminal gangs.”
Kristersson’s center-right minority government, formed after last year’s election with the support of the populist and anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, came to power partly on a promise to curb the growing gang violence. They have introduced various measures, including granting increased powers to the police and imposing harsher penalties for gun-related crimes. However, these initiatives have yet to yield results, with Kristersson attributing blame to previous governments for the ongoing issues.
Kristersson remarked, “It is an irresponsible immigration policy and a failed integration that has brought us here.”
Sweden, historically known for its liberal immigration policies, admitted more immigrants per capita than any other European nation during the 2015 migration crisis. These policies were later reversed by the former Social Democrat-led government but have since been further tightened under Kristersson’s administration. Approximately 20% of Sweden’s 10.5 million inhabitants were born abroad.
In response to the crisis, the opposition Social Democrats, the largest party in parliament, have called on the government to amend the law, enabling the military to assist in quelling gang violence. Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson emphasized, “This is not Sweden; this is not how Sweden is supposed to be.”
Kristersson, in response to these calls, has summoned the national police commissioner and the supreme commander of the armed forces to assess available options.
Police estimates suggest that around 30,000 people in Sweden are directly involved with or connected to gang-related crime. Furthermore, this violence has expanded from major urban areas into smaller towns where such incidents were previously rare.
Just this week, two individuals were fatally shot, and two others were injured when a gunman opened fire at a bar in Sandviken. The 11 shooting deaths this month mark September as the deadliest month since December 2019.
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National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg stated, “The criminal conflicts in Sweden are a serious threat to the safety and security of the country. Innocents are murdered and injured. We are doing everything we can within the police and in collaboration with others to halt this disturbing trend.”