Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has called in the military to quell an unprecedented wave of violent crime
Criminals in Sweden aren't just recruiting and arming kids to do their killing - children are now reaching out looking for work from gangs as hit-men, Police Chief Anders Thornberg told reporters on Friday, following the deadliest month the country has seen in four years.
Explosions and gunfire have become commonplace even in upscale communities, Thornberg lamented, revealing that there had been 12 such killings just this month, making it the deadliest month the nation had seen in four years.
Last year saw 60 people shot to death in Sweden -a record likely to be broken this year- and three people were killed during the 24 hours preceding Thornberg's press conference.
Children who end up in gangs receive weapons and even the desired address for the murder to take place from the "ruthless" gangs controlling the underworld. As a result, the number of children under age 18 held in custody by Swedish authorities nearly quintupled between August 2021 and last month.
Senior police officer Mats Lindstrom confirmed Thornberg's claims about young people writing to their favorite gangs looking for contract-killer jobs. Often, the victims of such child-perpetrated murders are very young as well.
While the gangs have plagued Sweden for years, their violent acts -against one another, the innocent bystanders, and the children they manipulate- only appear to be accelerating. In just one week in September, six people were shot and another narrowly escaped that fate - all just in the Uppsala and Stockholm areas.
Thornberg described the metastasizing violence in the country as "unprecedented," insisting it has no equivalent anywhere else in Europe - or in Swedish history.
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson took the unusual (for Sweden) step of calling in the military to help overwhelmed police forces "hunt down" and defeat the gangs, in a televised speech earlier this week. "Sweden has never seen anything like this. No other country in Europe is seeing anything like this," he said, echoing the police chief's words.
The government will address those shortcomings by giving police more powers, slapping criminals with longer sentences, and better protecting witnesses who give evidence against them, the PM promised.
While Kristersson's government entered power with a mandate to squelch runaway crime, his policies have so far done little to decrease the level of violence, while he has blamed it on the "irresponsible migration polices and failed integration" of those who came before - policies which have since been swapped out for stricter entry criteria.