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WEAPONS

Swedish weapons used in Burmese fighting

Burmese rebels have gained access to Swedish-designed weapons after government forces reportedly left them behind following conflict in the mountains of the country's far north.

Photographs surfaced of rebels from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) with six Swedish recoilless antitank rifles – the “Carl Gustav” – after government forces left them behind, according to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

Saab Bofors Dynamics, which manufactured the weapons, has reported the incident to the the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för Strategiska Produkter, ISP)

“After seeing the pictures we have reported the matter to the responsible authorities, the ISP, which handles these questions,” Sebastian Carlsson, spokesman for Saab, told SvD.

“We’re taking it seriously that our products have ended up in Burma.”

The Carl Gustav was first developed in 1947 and introduced into Swedish service in 1948. It has since been sold in at least 40 countries and has featured in conflicts such as the Falklands War and Afghanistan.

Now, Burmese officials are asking Sweden to investigate.

“We urge the Swedish government to investigate how these Swedish weapons ended up in the hands of the Burmese Army,” Zawng Hra, chairman of the Burmese political organization Kachin Independence Organization, told the paper.

In 1996, the EU countries were forbidden from exporting weapons to Burma, a law that remains today and applies to Sweden.

TT/The Local/og

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WEAPONS

Sweden world’s 13th most peaceful nation

Sweden has been ranked the 13th most peaceful country in the world by a global peace index, down from 11th in 2014.

Sweden world's 13th most peaceful nation
Sweden's arms trade is keeping it down in the rankings. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

According to the 2015 Global Peace Index (GPI), recently released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Iceland remains the world's most peaceful country.

Sweden's other Nordic neighbours Denmark, Finland and Norway all ranked in the top 20, taking the second, sixth and 17th spots respectively.

Denmark also came in second in the 2013 and 2014 reports, each time snapping at the heels of Iceland, which has been declared the world's most peaceful country each year since 2008.

According to the report, 15 of the 20 most peaceful countries in the world are in Europe, while the Middle East and North Africa remain the most violent regions in the world. The United States was at number 94, while Syria was at the very bottom of the 162-country list.

“The most substantial changes in the Index occurred in the Middle East and North Africa where several countries suffered from an upsurge in violence related to sectarian strife and civil conflicts,” the report noted.

Like in previous years, Sweden, which in 2014 celebrated two centuries of peace, is kept down in the rankings largely because it sells arms to other countries.

Despite enjoying a global reputation for peacemaking and generous foreign aid, the Scandinavian nation is the world's 11th largest exporter of weapons, including Saab's Jas Gripen jets, and has counted a number of regimes criticized for human rights abuses as its customers since the Cold War ended, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

READ ALSO: Sweden scraps controversial Saudi arms deal

The GPI comprises 23 indicators of the existence of violence or fear of violence, which include metrics such as the level of perceived criminality in the society, impact of terrorism, and military expenditure as percentage of the country's gross domestic product.

Each of the indicators for a given country is graded on a scale of one to five and then indexed into a final score, which can then be compared against other countries.

Sweden's indexed score was 1.36 while Iceland's was 1.148. In comparison, Syria's score was 3.645. Notably, Sweden scored around 1.0 or at least below 2.0 in nearly all areas apart from 'weapons exports' in which it received 5 out of 5.

A video explainer from the Institute for Economics and Peace is below and an interactive map can be accessed here