New police task force after latest Malmö blast

An explosion damaged a convenience store in Malmö in southern Sweden early Tuesday morning, prompting police to form a special task force to look into a string of recent bombings in the city.

“It was a really serious explosion, not simply a firework,” Malmö police spokesperson Göran Billberg told The Local.

The blast destroyed parts of the store’s entryway and security shutter, but no one was injured.

Witnesses reported seeing a person leaving the area on Sallerupsvägen around the time of the explosion, which took place around 1am and was powerful enough to be heard in many parts of the city.

Police continue to investigate the blast, but have yet to make any arrests.

The store’s owner had no explanation as to why the shop was targeted, and it remains unclear whether or not any threats may have been directed against the man.

“We’re talking to the owner and the employees as part of an overall survey of the situation,” said Billberg.

“There is nothing that has come up yet to indicate this was the work of organised criminals. It was a really small convenience store. It’s the first time a story like that has been targeted.”

According to Billberg, there have been 25 cases of small explosive devices being detonated in and around Malmö since the start of 2010, include a recent wave that started sometime in March.

Following Tuesday morning’s attack, police in Malmö and Skåne County criminal police announced plans to launch a special task force to investigate the incidents.

“We wanted to pool our resources and take things up to a county-wide level to see if there may be any connections to incidents elsewhere in Skåne,” said Billberg.

“We hope to go deeper in our analytic work to look at some of the different theories as to why the explosions are taking place.”

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.