A suspected bomb blast that broke through an apartment building and injured 20 people in the city of Gothenburg during early Tuesdays has revived the country’s debate about violent gang violence.
Police say an explosive device was “probably” placed at the scene, with sources revealing that an officer who recently testified at a major gang attempt lived in the building.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven refused to “speculate” but it is difficult to blame the Swedes for rushing to conclusions: more than 200 explosions and 360 shootings resonate through their cities by 2020.
Police chiefs blame the violence on “criminal clans that have a completely different culture” and a “generous welfare system and a trusting society can be exploited by the criminal networks.”
The country suffered its highest level of homicide and homicide in at least 18 years last year, with 124 people killed in violent attacks. Eighty percent were connected to gangs and 39 percent involved weapons.
In July, a 33-year-old rookie policeman was shot in the Gothenburg suburb of Biskopsgarden. An officer called it an “execution” and claimed that the shooter had aimed directly at his colleague.
In a separate incident last summer, Gothenburg’s most notorious crime family, Ali Khan, set up roadblocks in the northeastern city and lit torches in cars to chase members of a rival mob.
Rising crime prompted the liberal newspaper Expressen to ask in a recent editorial question: ‘How could we let Sweden turn into Europe’s gangster paradise?’
Right-wing politicians blame massive immigration from North Africa and the Middle East that have ghettoized urban areas, making it more difficult for police to enforce the country’s laws.
But the government has long avoided drawing any connection between immigration and the country’s rising crime.
Detectives burn tires in Malmö during furious protests after right-wing extremist activists burned a copy of the Koran in August 2020
A suspected bomb blast broke through an apartment building and injured 20 people in the Swedish city of Gothenburg early on Tuesday (picture: smoke flows from the building when firefighters at a cherry picker work to put out the fire)
Police are searching a residential building that was hit by an explosion that injured a person in Husby outside Stockholm on January 21, 2020, where two explosions occurred within a few minutes and a few hundred meters from each other
Sweden has a proud history of openness and accepts migrants from Finland during its wars with Russia and from the Balkans in the 1990s.
In the country with 10 million, there are about 2 million who were born in another country, or every fifth person.
Its generous welfare system put it at the top of the list of many fleeing wars in Iraq and Syria when immigration peaked during the 2015 crisis.
Almost 200,000 people living in Sweden were born in Syria, most in another country, followed by Iraq with more than 146,000.
The Swedish Government’s Council for Crime Prevention (BRA), which provides statistics and analysis of crime, has for decades failed to provide any information on migrant crime.
The latest study on the subject, which covered 1997-2001, showed that immigrants or people with a foreign background were significantly more likely than Swedes to be suspected of certain crimes, including sexual crimes.
When it was published in 2005, it sparked a furious debate about xenophobia.
Since then, the government has claimed that another report is unnecessary, but two years ago BRA announced that an updated study would be released this fall.
This long-awaited report will be the subject of intense debate, but many Swedes demand more explanation for the gun crime, bombings and drug trafficking in their country.
About 257 bomb attacks were reported to police in 2019, an increase from 162 the previous year, according to the BRA.
The agency did not specify which types of explosives were used, but Swedish media have reported on grenades and brands for shifting, for example vacuum flasks packed with explosive material.
BRA has not yet provided statistics on bomb attacks for 2020, but according to preliminary figures from September 2020, they were on the right track for a similar number of bombings as the year before.
An explosion in January in one of Stockholm’s most advanced districts destroyed part of a residential building and several cars parked outside. The explosion could be heard several miles away. No one was injured.
In a separate incident in the port city of Halmstad in March, the entrance and stairs to an apartment building were destroyed. Two people were injured.
The police did not arrest either and did not identify any suspects.
Gun crime is also widespread, which BRA attributes to increased gangs, drug trafficking and low trust in the police.
Paramedics remove an injured person on a stretcher after the explosion in Gothenburg on Tuesday. At least four people, including three elderly women, were seriously injured
In July, a 33-year-old rookie policeman was shot in the Gothenburg suburb of Biskopsgarden, who has been plagued by gang violence. An officer called it an “execution” and claimed that the shooter had aimed directly at his colleague (photo: an officer at the scene on July 1, 2021)
Of the 22 European countries analyzed by the Agency, only Sweden had registered a significant increase in deaths since 2000.
A report from BRA in May said that Sweden had surpassed Italy and Eastern European countries due to organized crime.
– The speed in Sweden is very high compared to other European countries, with about four deaths per million inhabitants per year. The average value for Europe is about 1.6 deaths per million inhabitants, it is said.
‘None of the other countries in the study have experienced comparable increases.’
In 2020, Sweden registered more than 360 weapons-related incidents, with 47 deaths and 117 people injured.
After a long decline, violence has steadily increased since the mid-2000s and continues to do so.
Shooting deaths more than doubled between 2011 and 2019 and now account for 40 percent of violent deaths.
“The increase in gun murders in Sweden is closely linked to criminal environments in socially disadvantaged areas,” the report states.
Eighty percent of the shootings were linked to gangs, a significantly higher proportion than in other European countries.
The public uprising over increased violence has forced the government to increase spending on the police and to launch a program to combat organized crime when law and order becomes one of the most important political battlefields.
The police have identified around 60 vulnerable areas, mainly in and around major cities, where unemployment is high, incomes are low and where drugs and gangs have gained a firm foothold.
But police chiefs say there has not been enough government support and that they are outgunned by young gangsters without respect for the law.
In an exclusive interview with MailOnline in October last year, Erik Nord, police chief in Gothenburg, said: “These criminal clans have a completely different culture that makes them very difficult to handle with ordinary police methods.
“We need more police and our courts and prisons need to be strengthened to deal with this situation as soon as possible. Otherwise we will become a gangster paradise.
According to Mr Nord, these criminal rings are drawn to the country with state dividends. ‘Why have they based themselves in Sweden? It’s obvious, he said.
Migrants are evicted from a camp set up in Malmö in 2015. Sweden has a proud history of openness and accepts migrants from Finland during its wars with Russia and from the Balkans in the 1990s. In the country with 10 million, there are about 2 million who were born in another country, or every fifth person.
Migrants are turned away by Swedish police after a month-long suspension at a brown field site in Malmö in 2015
“Our generous welfare system and our trustworthy society can be exploited by the criminal networks. Half of the disability benefits we pay out are fraudulently taken by the gangs. Sometimes they get divorced so that the government can give them another apartment, and then move back to their ex-wives and rent it out.
‘When the clan system found in the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans was transferred to Sweden, with our high social trust, it mutated into organized crime.
“We see the migrants leave the country for a few months and then return in a wheelchair to demand disability benefits. This is the beginning of exploitation.
“It is terrible because police resources are being used to deal with the problem that we have created ourselves.”
Inspector Ulf Böstrom, head of Gothenburg’s integration unit, who has been a police officer for 42 years, told MailOnline that the withdrawal of community police patrols in the 1980s created a vacuum that was filled with migrant gangs.
“When the cat is gone, the rats dance on the table,” he said. “In Sweden, the cat has been gone for 30 years. Without police at the pace, there was no way to show our legal boundaries to new arrivals.
“The clans have a code of silence. They do not trust the Swedish authorities and they will not talk to us. We have 184 nationalities in Gothenburg alone. The clans see white Swedes as just another clan that happens to have control over the country’s institutions.
“We had an integration plan that obviously failed. Fixing it will be very difficult. A generation of young men have been born into criminal families on Swedish soil, and they see themselves as immobile. ‘