Sweden bomb attacks reach unprecedented level as gangs feud. Police say lack of fatalities ‘incredibly lucky’ after 30 bomb squad call-outs in two months.
Sweden’s national bomb squad has been called out to 30 blasts in the past two months and 100 so far this year, more than twice the number in the same period in 2018, as concern grows about rising levels of violence by criminal gangs.
Police arrested three people over the weekend following an explosion in an apartment block in the southern city of Malmö early on Friday that blew out the building’s main door, shattered windows and substantially damaged the entrance level.
The blast was the first of three in the space of 24 hours, local media reported, with others destroying cars and damaging property in Växjö, 204 km north-east of Malmö, and Landvetter outside Gothenburg on the country’s west coast.
Malmö’s police chief, Stefan Sintius, said there had been 28 explosions so far this year in Sweden’s third biggest city, scene of a string of gun and bomb attacks that right wing politicians have linked to the large flows of immigrants who arrived in in Sweden during the 2015 migration crisis.
Nineteen bombs have also exploded in the capital, Stockholm, so far this year, and another 13 in Gothenburg, compared with 39 nationwide in 2018. The squad have also defused 76 suspected bombs that were spotted before they could be detonated.
The bombs, which mostly target empty buildings, offices and cars, are usually small and experts believe they are intended to intimidate rival gangs. Police have said, however, that some could have been deadly.
One device in Linköping earlier this year contained about 40 times the usual explosive charge, seriously damaging two residential buildings and injuring 25 people.
Experts have said the growing use of mainly plastic explosives is part of a wider increase in reckless violence among Sweden’s gangs.
Fatal shootings ascribed by police to criminal networks have surged from an annual average of about four 20 years ago to more than 40 in 2018, official figures show.
The government has announced a 34-point plan to combat the violence, including measures making it easier for police to search homes and read encrypted phone messages.
Denmark, however, is alarmed enough to have reintroduced border controls following two blasts in Copenhagen linked to Swedish gangs.
Despite the gang attacks, Sweden’s murder rate has fallen since the 1990’s and remains among the world’s lowest, with killings linked to domestic violence, hate crime and “spontaneous fights” all significantly down.
The Guardian / ABC Flash Point News 2019.