At least 11 people have been killed so far this month in wave of gang violence sweeping over Sweden.
Sweden’s prime minister announced that he will hold talks with the head of the Swedish armed forces and the police commissioner to discuss ways to stem gang violence following a wave of attacks that have resulted in at least 11 people killed so far this month.
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that he would meet with the armed forces’ supreme commander and the national police commissioner on Friday to explore “how the armed forces can help police in their work against the criminal gangs”.
“Sweden has never before seen anything like this,” Kristersson said on Thursday in a rare televised address to the nation.
“No other country in Europe is seeing anything like this,” he said.
Two people were killed in separate shootings in Stockholm on Wednesday, and a woman in her 20s was killed when a bomb tore up 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 got to wake up,” he said.
“We will hunt the gangs, we will defeat the gangs,” he added.
It was not immediately clear in what capacity the military would get involved in tackling Sweden’s gang problem, but previous proposals have focused on soldiers taking over protection duties from police to free up more resources for crime-fighting.
Getting the military involved in crime-fighting would be a highly unusual step for Sweden, but it underscores the severity of the gang violence that has claimed almost a dozen lives across the country so far this month, including teenagers and innocent bystanders.
The police estimate that about 30,000 people in Sweden are directly involved with or have ties to gang crime. The violence has also spread from major urban areas to smaller towns where violent crime was previously rare.
“The criminal conflicts in Sweden are 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 on record. This year is on track to be the same or worse. Swedish media have linked the latest surge in violence to a feud between rival factions of a criminal gang known as the Foxtrot network.
Earlier this week, two powerful blasts ripped through dwellings in central Sweden, wounding at least three people and damaging buildings.
Kristersson’s centre-right government took power last year with a promise to get tough on crime, but so far has not been able to stem the violence.
The government and the leftist opposition have traded accusations over who is to blame for the situation.
The opposition says the government has made the country less safe while Kristersson put the blame on “irresponsible migration policies and failed integration” under the previous government.
Sweden long stood out in Europe along with Germany for having liberal immigration policies and welcoming hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Africa.
Sweden has since sharply restricted migration levels, citing rising crime levels and other social problems.