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TERRORISM

Swedes killed in fighting in Somalia

Several young men who left Sweden to join the radical Islamic militant group al-Shabaab in Somalia have been killed in battle, according to Sweden’s security service Säpo.

Swedes killed in fighting in Somalia

Säpo estimates that about 20 people have left Sweden to train and fight with al-Shabaab, a militant group with alleged ties to al-Qaeda.

So far, a handful of people with Swedish passports have also been killed in the fighting, Säpo reports.

“For the time being, it is believed there are ten or so Swedes on the ground in Somalia. They are either taking part in the violence or in training camps, but there may be more as of yet unknown cases. What worries us is that it’s ongoing and growing,” said Säpo counterterrorism analyst Malena Rembe to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The recruits aren’t only Swedes with Somali backgrounds, but are also individuals of mixed ethnicity, according to Rembe.

Some of them are leaving Sweden without telling their relatives what they are planning to do.

“These are people who are going down on their own initiative. They see themselves as a part of a global struggle and want to contribute,” said Rembe.

Somalia has been at war since 1991 when the country’s government collapsed. Recently, al-Shabaab militants have made advances toward the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

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BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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