Sweden to call in military to help crack down on gangs

World Friday 29/September/2023 16:39 PM
By: DW
Sweden to call in military to help crack down on gangs

Stockholm: Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson was meeting the head of Sweden's armed forces and the police chief on Friday to discuss ways to stem growing gang violence in the country.

He wanted "to see how the armed forces can help the police fight the gangs."

In September alone 12 people were killed in the wave of violence sweeping the country. One was killed in a bomb attack, and another 11 were shot dead in separate incidents.

"We're going to hunt down the gangs, and we're going to defeat them," Kristersson said during a televised address on Thursday evening.

The Scandinavian country has been wrestling with rampant gang crime for years. National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg said it now poses a "serious threat to the safety and security of the country."

"Sweden has never seen anything like this. No other country in Europe is seeing anything like this," Kristersson said.

After winning the election last year, his coalition government had given police greater powers and introduced harsher punishment for gun crimes.

Kristersson may also deploy soldiers to help curb escalating violence, a move also called for by the opposition Social Democrats.

"This is not Sweden, this is not how Sweden is supposed to be," Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson said.

Kristersson blamed the on crisis years of political naivety, particularly under Social Democrat-led governments and ramped up anti-migrant rhetoric. Kristersson's Moderate Party came to power with the support of the far-right Swedish Democrats.

"Irresponsible immigration policies and failed integration have led us here," he said.

New laws will give police more power to combat gang activity, including wiretapping and body searches in certain areas, harsher sentences for repeat offenders, and double sentences for some crimes.

"We'll put them on trial. If they are Swedish citizens they will be locked away with long prison sentences, and if they are foreigners they will be deported," he said.

"We are going to deport foreigners who move in criminal gang circles even if they haven't committed a crime," he added.

New youth prisons to separate young offenders from adult criminals are also being constructed.

Kristersson said that efforts were underway to ensure all children learn Swedish.