Number of bomb attacks in Sweden has surged this year

The number of attacks with explosives has increased significantly so far this year, according to the latest official figures, with 93 attacks up until the end of May.

Number of bomb attacks in Sweden has surged this year
An attack on a nightclub in central Malmö earlier this year. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
By the same time last year, the tally was at just 63.
According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, which collects the figures, there were 162 explosions reported last year. Figures are not available for earlier years as, the council only began counting explosions as a separate category in 2018. 
“There's an arms race going on in the world of organised crime,”  Stockholm University criminologist Sven Granath told Swedish state broadcaster Sveriges Radio
This week in Malmö, there were three attacks over a single 24-hour period, while last week a massive blast blew out all the windows of an apartment building in Linköping. 
The attacks have led some to talk of a new wave of violence hitting the country. 
“If we accept this this is the real rate of growth, it's a lot and of course very serious,” Manne Gerell, Associate Professor in Criminology at Malmö university, told the broadcaster. 
“Many people suspect that more or less the same people are involved in the explosions as in the shootings. So we might think that certain groups have started using explosives more than they did previously.” 
Granath said that Sweden's new weapons had also led to increased seizures of pistols, pushing some criminals to use explosives instead. Gerell said that it looked as if criminals had learnt how to use explosives, and were therefore more willing to use them. 
“They know that they have explosives as an alternative, which they perhaps wouldn't have considered five years' back,” he said. 
He said that in most cases the explosives seemed to be used to scare people and make a statement, with only a few cases looking designed to kill or injure. 
“Because most of the explosions are at places where there are no people on the scene — entrances, empty shops or vehicles — it's a reasonable hypothesis at this is most often about sending a message or signal,” he said. 
Granath warned that attacks with explosives were more likely to end up injuring innocent bystanders than shooting attacks. 
“Some people have been shot dead by mistake, but there are also people who have been killed by explosives by mistake and I think the risk of being 'caught up in the cross-fire' is greater with explosives,” he said. 
He said that explosives attacks which can be heard several kilometres away also had a more damaging impact on local communities, giving people the sense they were living in danger. 
“It's obvious that it affects an extremely large number of people. It sends the signal that something is dangerous and unpleasant.” 

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Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.