Sweden grapples with surge in gang-related violence

September 30, 2023, 7:03 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

STOCKHOLM – Sweden is facing a growing crisis Friday as it struggles to contain a surge in gang-related violence, with 13 killed in the last 15 days, according to officials.

The country has held the distinction of leading European nations in armed attacks and murders per capita for the past five years, according to a report by Swedish state television, SVT.

In 2023 alone, Sweden has recorded 44 murders, with 13 in the last 15 days.

The escalation in violent incidents has prompted a strong response from Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who addressed the nation, announcing a multi-faceted strategy to combat escalating gang violence, involving collaboration between the government, police and the military.

He said officials would use resources to fight gangs and noted that a law allowing police to wiretap telephones of suspected gang members without a warrant would take effect from Sunday.

Kristersson emphasized his commitment to allocating resources to confront and suppress gang activities.

He also disclosed the possibility of deploying the military to assist police in battling criminal organizations, underlining the gravity of the situation.

Statistics provided by the Swedish police showed 283 armed attacks between rival gangs recorded in 2023.

The clashes have resulted in 44 fatalities and 87 injured, painting a grim picture of the ongoing gang warfare.

A report from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRA) further underscores the severity of the situation where it said the rate of armed attacks in recent years has been "very high" compared to other European countries.

While the European average stands at 1.6 deaths per million people annually due to such attacks, Sweden has four deaths per million people. (Anadolu)