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Sweden’s leader turns to the military for help as gang violence escalates

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Police stand on the site of a powerful explosion that occurred early Thursday morning Sept. 28, 2023, in a housing area in Storvreta outside Uppsala, Sweden. A 25-year-old woman died in the blast. (Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency via AP)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden’s prime minister on Thursday stated that he’s summoned the pinnacle of the army to debate how the armed forces might help police take care of an unprecedented crime wave that has shocked the nation with virtually every day shootings and bombings.

Getting the army concerned in crime-fighting could be a extremely uncommon step for Sweden, underscoring the severity of the gang violence that has claimed a dozen lives throughout the nation this month, together with youngsters and harmless bystanders.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated that he would meet with the armed forces’ supreme commander and the nationwide police commissioner on Friday to discover “how the armed forces might help police of their work in opposition to the prison gangs.”

It wasn’t instantly clear in what capability the army would get entangled, however earlier proposals have targeted on troopers taking up safety duties from police to release extra assets for crime-fighting.

“Sweden has by no means earlier than seen something like this,” Kristersson stated in a televised speech to the nation. “No different nation in Europe is seeing something like this.”

Sweden has grappled with gang violence for years, however the surge in shootings and bombings in September has been distinctive. Three folks have been killed in a single day in separate assaults with suspected hyperlinks to prison gangs, which frequently recruit youngsters in socially deprived immigrant neighborhoods to hold out hits.

One of many victims was a girl in her 20s who died in an explosion in Uppsala, north of Stockholm. Swedish media stated she was doubtless not the meant goal of the assault.

Newspaper Dagens Nyheter stated an 18-year-old rapper was killed late Wednesday in a capturing exterior a sports activities advanced on the outskirts of Stockholm.

Greater than 60 folks died in shootings final yr in Sweden, the very best determine on document. This yr is on monitor to be the identical or worse. Swedish media have linked the most recent surge in violence to a feud between rival factions of a prison gang referred to as the Foxtrot community.

Earlier this week, two highly effective blasts ripped by dwellings in central Sweden, wounding at the very least three folks and damaging buildings.

Kristersson’s center-right authorities took energy final yr with a promise to get powerful on crime, however thus far hasn’t been in a position to stem the violence. The federal government and the leftist opposition have been buying and selling accusations over who’s responsible for the scenario. The opposition says the federal government has made the nation much less protected whereas Kristersson put the blame on “irresponsible migration insurance policies and failed integration” underneath the earlier authorities.

Sweden lengthy stood out in Europe together with Germany for having liberal immigration insurance policies and welcoming a whole bunch of 1000’s of asylum-seekers from the Center East and Africa. Sweden has since sharply restricted migration ranges, citing rising crime ranges and different social issues.

Kristersson stated that he met with New York Mayor Eric Adams final week to study from town’s efforts to struggle crime, together with surveillance strategies and weapon detection programs.

The prime minister stated that the federal government is overhauling Sweden’s prison code to offer police extra powers, criminals longer sentences and witnesses higher safety.

“Swedish legal guidelines aren’t designed for gang wars and baby troopers,” Kristersson stated.

___ Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

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