STOCKHOLM—Three people were killed overnight in separate incidents in Sweden as a feud between criminal gangs escalated.
Two gangs are reportedly fighting over drugs and weapons, and this month has seen a sharp increase in fatal shootings in the northern European country, which has a relatively low crime rate and is considered a very safe place to live.
Late Wednesday, an 18-year-old man was shot dead in a Stockholm suburb. Hours later, one man was killed and another was wounded in a shooting in Jordbro, south of the Swedish capital.
Early Thursday a woman in her 20s died in an explosion in Uppsala, west of Stockholm, that police are treating as murder. Swedish media said the woman who died was likely not the intended victim and that the real target was the house next door.
At least two of the three deaths were linked to a feud between criminal gangs, Swedish media reported.
Two gangs—one led by a Swedish-Turkish dual national who lives in Turkey, the other by his former lieutenant—are reportedly fighting over drugs and weapons.
National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg said Thursday that the gang feud was “a serious threat to the safety and security of the country.”
In the whole of 2022, 116 people in Sweden lost their lives to deadly violence, covering murder, manslaughter, and assault with a lethal outcome, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention
The latest fatal shootings bring the death toll in September alone to 11, Swedish broadcaster SVT noted. That would make this the deadliest month for shootings since police started keeping statistics in 2016.
Speaking Thursday on Swedish broadcaster TV4, Swedish Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer said,“It is a deeply tragic development. I understand that people feel anger, fear and sadness.”
Magdalena Andersson, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, called for the military to be sent in. She told Swedish radio that the military could free up police by carrying out some transportation and guard duties.
Mr. Strömmer said that it was “not relevant to deploy the military,” but that he was prepared to listen to all parties when it comes to solving the wave of violence.
Four people have been detained on suspicion of complicity in the fatal shooting in Jordbro. Police said that two people have been arrested over the Uppsala explosion, which was so violent that the facades of two houses were blown away. The blast wave could be felt by seismic monitoring stations some 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, the TT news agency said.
”We assume that those who have been affected by the incident have nothing to do with the national conflict,” said Catarina Bowall, a senior officer with the Uppsala police.
“This is one of the worst explosions in the area,” local police chief Ulf Johansson said.
Uppsala, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Stockholm, has been the scene of many feud-related shooting and explosions.
Earlier this week, two powerful blasts ripped through dwellings in central Sweden, injuring at least three people and damaging buildings.
The center-right government has been tightening laws to tackle gang-related crime, while the head of Sweden’s police has said that warring gangs have brought an “unprecedented” wave of violence to the country.