At least 11 people have been killed this month in a wave of gang violence sweeping Sweden.
Sweden’s prime minister said he would meet with the head of Sweden’s armed forces and the police commissioner to discuss ways to stem gang violence after a wave of attacks that left at least 11 dead so far. now this month.
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he would meet the supreme commander of the armed forces and the national police commissioner on Friday to explore “how the armed forces can help the police in their work against criminal gangs.”
“Sweden has never seen anything like this,” Kristersson said Thursday in a rare televised address to the nation.
“No other country in Europe has such a situation,” he said.
Two people were killed in shootings in Stockholm on Wednesday, and a woman in her 20s was killed when a bomb destroyed a house in Uppsala in the early hours of Thursday.
“This is a difficult time for Sweden,” Kristersson said in his speech.
“A 25-year-old woman went to bed last night on a completely ordinary evening but never managed to wake up,” he said.
“We will drive out the gangs, we will defeat the gangs,” he added.
It was not yet clear to what extent the military would become involved in tackling Sweden’s gang problem, but previous proposals focused on soldiers taking over protective duties from the police in order to free up more resources for the fight against crime.
Involving the military in fighting crime would be a highly unusual move for Sweden, but it underscores the severity of the gang violence that has claimed the lives of nearly a dozen people across the country so far this month, including teenagers and innocent bystanders.
Police estimate that around 30,000 people in Sweden are directly involved or have links to gang-related crime. Violence has also spread from large urban areas to small towns where violent crime was previously rare.
“Criminal conflicts in Sweden pose a serious threat to the safety and security of the country,” National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg said in a statement.
More than 60 people died in shootings last year in Sweden, the highest figure ever recorded. This year is poised to be the same, or worse. Swedish media have linked the latest wave of violence to a feud between rival factions of a criminal gang known as the Foxtrot network.
Earlier this week, two powerful explosions ripped through homes in central Sweden, injuring at least three people and damaging buildings.
Kristersson’s center-right government took power last year with a promise to get tougher on crime, but so far has failed to stem the violence.
The government and the left-wing opposition exchange accusations over responsibility for the situation.
The opposition says the government has made the country less secure, while Kristersson blames “irresponsible migration policies and the failure of integration” under the previous government.
Sweden has long stood out in Europe, alongside Germany, for its liberal immigration policies and for welcoming hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa.
Sweden has since sharply restricted its migration levels, citing rising levels of crime and other social problems.