Swedish filmmaker shot in Afghanistan

Swedish documentary filmmaker Pål Hollender fled Afghanistan on Sunday night to seek medical treatment in Dubai after he was shot in the arm while filming a new documentary in the country.

Swedish filmmaker shot in Afghanistan
Fredrik Persson/Scanpix (File); Katja Öberg/Försvarets Bildbyrå (File)

“I had no idea that it hurt so tremendously much to be shot,” Hollender told the Aftonbladet newspaper on Monday.

Hollender had been in the country for 30 days to make a film with the working title “Finding Ali” about life in the country. The film is scheduled for completion next year.

On Friday, he and his driver, who was also his guide, went to a village near the town of Azra east of Kabul to film some rural scenes. While traveling in the desert, a man tried to make contact with the car.

“It is quite common here for people to stick their head in the window and want to pick a fight. It can be locals, police officers, or whoever the hell is it, but in this case, it was very heated,” Hollender told the newspaper.

Hollender’s driver was aware of the danger and pressed on the accelerator.

“He saved my life by acting so quickly. We had barely moved 100 metres before we heard the window shatter and someone began shooting at the car. The guide continued to step on the gas and I crouched down. It felt unreal,” said Hollender.

Seconds later, Hollender felt a bullet penetrate his upper arm. The panic-stricken duo drove through the mountains in search of help.

“It took a very long time to get to a doctor. I tried to cling onto the handle above the side window with my arm, but we had tied it up so tightly around the bullethole, my arm fell asleep and I lost my grip the whole time. I tried to breathe deeply and relax to avoid more pain and cramping,” said Hollender.

Both realised early on that they could not go to a hospital. Hollender’s driver had previously signed a document with the police guaranteeing his safety. If Hollender were shot, it could spell jail time for the driver and detention for Hollender or a substantial bribe to leave the country.

In a mountain village several kilometres outside Kabul, they found a doctor who attended to Hollender in a low stone building. During treatment, Hollender fainted from shock. Dizzy and nauseated, he directed his driver to take him back to his hotel in central Kabul, where he had to pretend he was not shot for two days.

Fearing infection, Hollender decided to leave the country as soon as possible, catching the first available flight to Dubai on Sunday. According to Hollender, the wound is apparently very infected and he will need surgery as soon as possible.

Hollender is known for his controversial documentaries. “Pelle polis” (Pelle the Policeman) from 1998 dealt with a policeman who was sentenced for sexually assaulting a child.

In 2001’s “Buy Bye Beauty,” Hollender filmed himself having sex with Latvian prostitutes. He also appeared on Expedition: Robinson in 1998 and 2003.

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Malmö pushes ahead with US anti-gang method after shootings

The recent spate of explosions and shootings in Malmö has not knocked the local police's pioneering anti-gang project off course, local police chief Stefan Sintéus said on Wednesday.

Malmö pushes ahead with US anti-gang method after shootings
Ten representatives of the agencies involved in Sluta Skjut gave a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Under the city's Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) scheme, nine known gang members were on Tuesday forced to attend a meeting where they were confronted by police, nurses, bereaved parents, social workers and others, all of whom sought to convince them to leave their criminal lives. 
Sintèus told a press conference that he was worried that the fatal shooting of Jaffar, a 15-year-old boy, on Saturday night in a pizzeria near Malmö's Möllevånstorget square, would change the dynamic of the so-called 'call-in'.
“I can honestly say that I was worried before this call-in,” he said. “I would like to say that this was a call-in where we could tell with all of them that it sunk in.” 
The nine men had all been sentenced for various crimes, and had to attend the meeting as part of their probation. Three of those invited chose not to come, thereby risking a 15-day prison sentence. 
The meeting was the third since the Sluta Skjut project began last year. The project uses the Group Violence Intervention technique developed by Professor David Kennedy, who leads the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College in New York. 
NNSC claims that the technique cut youth homicide in Boston by 63 percent and the number of shootings by 27 percent when it was launched there in the 1990s. 
The police briefly uploaded a video of a rehearsal involved carried out before the event took place on Tuesday but later took it down. The Sydsvenskan newspaper published a clip on its website (In Swedish). 
The video shows Dejan, from the local probation services; Sedat Arif, a Malmö city councillor from Macedonia who explained his tough upbringing in Rosengård, Anna Kosztovics, who leads the unit helping gang members leave crime, and Ebba, a deacon from the Swedish church, as well as two police officers and Ola Sjöstrand, Malmö's chief prosecutor.
Boel Håkansson, with the Swedish police's national unit NOA, said that so far 30 young men had shown interest in leaving criminal life. “That's one result of the work in Sluta Skjut, but we have a lot more to do,” she said. 
She also stressed that, even after the shootings last Saturday and on Monday, the number of fatal shootings since the project began was still down dramatically on 2018. 
At Tuesday's meeting, the nine young men were lectured by Lizette Vargas, a nurse who has helped treat some of those admitted to Malmö University Hospital with bullet wounds. 
“I told them what it looks like when someone comes into the accident and emergency department with bullet wounds,” she said at the press conference, according to the Sydsvenskan newspaper. “I explained how we in our profession feel when we look after a trauma patient and handle their friends and relatives.” 
She said that she felt the men had been affected by what she said. “They became upset. We had made contact when our eyes met. You can tell it's sinking in.”  
At the meeting on Tuesday there were more than 70 people, including representatives of sports clubs, religious organisations, and the local city government, all of whom offered various services to help the men leave criminal life. 
A mother, whose adult son had died of an illness, told the men what it was like to lose a child. 
But as well as the soft sell, there was a harder message. 
“We are not going to accept that either you, or those you hang about with, use guns or violence,” Sintéus told them. “If you choose to continue doing that nonetheless, the police and other authorities are going to have a minute focus on everyone in the most violent group.” 
Under Group Violence Intervention, police put the lives of those deemed to still be engaged in violent crime under the microscope, carrying out frequent spot checks on them. 
“We know who you are and who you hang out with,” added Glen Sjögren, who has worked for Malmö police for 40 years.  “We do not want more young kids to end their lives in a pool of blood.”