Sweden will do whatever it takes, including sending in the army, to end a wave of gang violence that has seen a string of deadly shootings, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in Wednesday.
Sweden’s murder rate is relatively low in international terms, but gang violence has surged in recent years and Swedes are worried that the police are unable to cope.
In 2016, the latest year for which official statistics are available, 106 people were murdered in Sweden, a country of 10 million.
But Swedish TV reported there were over 300 shootings, mostly in turf battles between gangs over drugs, protection rackets and prostitution.
Four people were shot dead in the first week of this year. One man died after picking up a hand grenade outside a subway station in a suburb of Stockholm.
Law and order is likely to be a major issue in a parliamentary election scheduled for September with the populist, opposition Sweden Democrats linking public concern about the rising crime rate to a large increase in the numbers of immigrants.
“It would not be my first option to bring in the military, but I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure that serious, organized crime is stamped out,” Lofven told news agency TT.
One depressing possibility is that Sweden, having lost control of more and more urban territory as its black population grows, will turn law enforcement in Muslim areas over to autonomous Muslim police forces.
The prime minister is likely not serious about sending in the army, not just because the liberal Swedish government would find it distasteful but because Swedish politics likely already has an American-derived black advocacy impulse: it would be racist.