Swedish police chief warns of ‘unprecedented’ wave of gang killings

Gang wars are causing an "unprecedented" wave of violence in Sweden, said national police chief Anders Thornberg at a press conference held after a spate of fatal shootings in the past couple of weeks.

Swedish police chief warns of 'unprecedented' wave of gang killings
Swedish police chief Anders Thornberg. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

In recent years, Sweden has seen gangs fighting over arms and drug trafficking, involving firearms and explosive devices.

“There have recently been murders and explosions on an unprecedented scale,” police chief Anders Thornberg told a press conference.

“Several boys aged between 13 and 15 have been killed, the mother of a criminal was executed at home, and a young man in Uppsala was shot dead on his way to work”, he added.

The police chief emphasised that the orders often came from high-level gang criminals based abroad, without mentioning any nationalities.

There have been several shootings in Sweden this week: four in the university city of Uppsala – two of them fatal – and two in Stockholm, where a 13-year-old teenager lost his life.

Last year, 90 explosions and 101 attempted explosive attacks were recorded, according to data from the Swedish police.

So far this year over 100 explosions have already been recorded.

The conflicts between these criminal gangs are costing innocent lives, said Thornberg.

“Citizens are afraid, insecurity is increasing. And this at a time when we have raised our terrorist alert level in the country.”

Several gang crimes have been foiled in recent days, he added, stressing the importance of preventive work.

“Several people have been arrested and weapons confiscated in Uppsala alone, where the situation is very serious,” added Ulf Johansson, a police officer in the Uppsala region, which is 70 kilometres north of Stockholm.

In 2022, there were 391 shootings in Sweden, 62 of which were fatal, compared to 45 people killed by gunfire the previous year.

Member comments

  1. This is terrible, so many innocent lives lost or affected.

    Something perplexing are the reasons – the fighting is over arms and drugs?
    Sweden is a small country. From an economic perspective, why would gangs operate in such a tiny market?
    Surely, for organized crime bosses, there are other places in the world that would be more lucrative with fewer legal impediments?

    Something seems off – maybe some good, old investigative journalism might provide clearer answers?

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Swedish police chief: ‘Kids are contacting gangs to become killers’

More and more children are contacting criminal gangs in Sweden to offer their services as contract killers, the country's police chief said on Friday, after three people were murdered in 24 hours.

Swedish police chief: 'Kids are contacting gangs to become killers'

Sweden has in recent years been in the grip of a bloody conflict between gangs fighting over arms and drug trafficking. That has escalated with internal fighting within a leading gang.

Apartment buildings and homes across the country are frequently rocked by explosions. Shootings, once limited to disadvantaged areas, have become regular occurrences in public places in the usually tranquil, wealthy country.

“We have a situation where children are contacting criminal gangs to become killers,” police chief Anders Thornberg told journalists.

“The criminals are ruthless,” Thornberg said, adding that the gangs also contacted people, often minors, and “furnished them with weapons and gave them the address in which to stage the attack”. 

Even the victims were often young.

This month, 12 people were killed in shootings and explosions, the deadliest month in the past four years in Sweden.


Senior police official Mats Lindström said he had seen many messages from young people contacting gangs for contract killings.

In August 2023, there were 69 people aged under 18 in custody in Sweden, against 14 in the same month two years earlier.

On Thursday evening, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson vowed to defeat criminal gangs with the help of the military.

“We are going to hunt down the gangs. We are going to defeat the gangs,” Kristersson said in a televised address to the nation.

“An increasing number of children and completely innocent people are affected by this extreme violence,” Kristersson said.

“Sweden has never seen anything like this. No other country in Europe is seeing anything like this.”