Inside the Swedish gang clashes

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This year is on track to create yet another unwanted record in gang related crimes in Sweden as Stockholm, in the first six months of 2019, has seen as many killings as the whole of 2018.

Shooters and victims have been identified as unemployed young men with immigrant backgrounds, under 30 years of age, living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and often without any qualification.

A former gang member said youths are lured into gangs to associate with a fancy lifestyle, sleeping with young girls, drugs among other issues.

“If you see these guys who sell drugs, they have gold chains, they drive fancy cars, they get to sleep with the girls. It’s not hard to find your way there,” the former gang member said.

As a result, turf wars among the fight for the prestigious, fancy lifestyles has led to gang wars in the past.

He said the only way to strengthen one’s gang was through eliminating other gangs.

This, he said, will make your gang gain prestige.

In 2018, Sweden recorded 45 deaths from 300 shootings and also recorded 135 injuries.

The gangs are usually found in areas classified as “vulnerable areas” where violence has been recorded particularly in areas like Malmo in the south.

Affected areas are the capital Stockholm, and Malmo and Gothenburg, but violence has also started to spread to medium-sized cities.

Kalashnikov automatic rifles are weapons preferred for use by the gangs.

Sweden’s gang members have also been using grenades and explosives to settle their scores.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has been criticised for his stance in fighting the ill.

Conservative MP Johan Forssell said in Parliament recently during a debate on gangs: “This violence is tearing apart society as we know it and the country we want Sweden to be.”

Government has however called for joint mobilisation of civil society and law enforcement.

“The shootings and gang crime can only be uprooted if police efforts are combined with a strong social sector and a good school,” the PM told Parliament last month.

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