Swedish military to help police after surge in gang violence
Three people were killed in recent days in separate attacks with suspected links to criminal gangs.
Sweden’s prime minister has said that the military will soon assist the police with some duties to help deal with an unprecedented crime wave including almost daily shootings and bombings.
Ulf Kristersson said his centre-right government will announce proposals next Thursday on how the armed forces would work with police.
The country’s national police chief, Anders Thornberg, clarified earlier on Friday that members of the armed forces will not be given “direct” policing tasks.
Still, getting the military involved in crimefighting in any capacity would be a highly unusual step for Sweden, underscoring the severity of the gang violence that has claimed a dozen lives across the country this month, including teenagers and innocent bystanders.
“The police cannot do all the work themselves,” Mr Kristersson said after a meeting with the heads of the armed forces and the national police.
The prime minister noted that the country’s military is preoccupied with ensuring readiness because of the war in Ukraine.
But he said the armed forces could perhaps help the national police with knowledge of explosives, helicopter logistics and analyses, and that this could be done within the country’s existing laws.
Sweden has grappled with gang violence for years but the surge in shootings and bombings in September has been exceptional. Three people were killed in recent days in separate attacks with suspected links to criminal gangs, which often recruit teenagers in socially disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods to carry out hits.
Mr Kristersson said Sweden’s laws need to be tightened to counter the recruitment of young people into gangs, and that he believed there was a majority in the Swedish parliament to make appropriate changes.
More than 60 people died in shootings last year in Sweden, the highest figure on record. This year is on track to be the same or worse. Authorities have linked the latest surge in violence to a feud between rival factions of international criminal gangs.