Swedish Military to Join Police in Battling Surge in Gang Violence

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Next Thursday, the Swedish military will officially join forces with local police to combat increasing gang violence, as revealed by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Announcing the move last Friday after crucial talks with top-level officials such as army chief Micael Byden, police chief Anders Thornberg, and Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer, Kristersson stated that the army would contribute valuable skills in areas like analysis, logistics, handling explosives, and forensic work.

Additionally, he explained the country’s existing legislation requires revision to allow for wider military involvement. As it stands, Sweden has seen twelve casualties so far this month due to gang-related incidents. This is the highest count since December 2019.

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Among the victims was an unsuspecting young woman, mistakenly caught in gang violence. Soha Saad, a recently certified teacher, was killed when an explosion designed for a neighbor devastated her home, located about 80km north of Stockholm.

A conflict rooted in a gang known as the Foxtrot network is suspected to be behind the sudden increase in fatalities. The group, currently experiencing intense infighting and division, has led the Prime Minister to claim such a situation has never occurred in Sweden nor in any other European country.

Kristersson has expressed increasing concerns over the escalating involvement of innocent bystanders and children in the chaos. With record-breaking shooting deaths surpassing 60 in the past year, current trends predict a further increase. A report published in 2021 revealed that four out of every million inhabitants in Sweden were victims of a shooting incident each year. In contrast, the average across Europe was 1.6 out of a million people.

Factors contributing to such violence are reportedly linked to immigration integration issues, an increasing gap between socioeconomic classes, and drug misuse. Despite assuming control last year with the backing of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, Kristersson’s center-right minority government has yet to control the rising violence.

In response, Kristersson pledges to implement tougher surveillance, stricter gun law penalties, and enhance deportation powers. He also plans to introduce stop and search zones, emphasizing that “everything is on the table.” However, these measures face criticism for not adequately addressing root causes such as underfunded community services and child poverty.