Three dead in gang shooting in Sweden

Police forensics investigate the scene after three people were killed and three others injured, in a shooting incident, outside an Internet cafe on Drottninggatan street in central Malmo, southern Sweden. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2018

Three dead in gang shooting in Sweden

  • While shootings that lead to multiple deaths remain rare in Sweden, the normally tranquil nation has seen a rise in violent crime in recent years.
  • Witnesses to Monday’s shooting said the victims were sprayed with around 15 to 20 bullets as they walked out of an Internet cafe, not far from a police station.

STOCKHOLM: Three people were killed and three others injured in a gang shooting in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, plagued by rival criminal gangs, police said Tuesday.
While shootings that lead to multiple deaths remain rare in Sweden, the normally tranquil nation has seen a rise in violent crime in recent years, a phenomenon that has preoccupied voters ahead of a September 9 general election.
Immigration, security and crime — primarily in Sweden’s disadvantaged suburbs — are among the main themes of the election campaign.
The ruling Social Democrats have seen their support in opinion polls slump in recent months, while the ratings of the populist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats have soared.
Witnesses to Monday’s shooting said the victims were sprayed with around 15 to 20 bullets as they walked out of an Internet cafe, not far from a police station, at around 8:00 p.m. (1800 GMT).
At least one of the attackers fired an automatic weapon, according to witnesses cited in the media, though police refused to comment on the reports.
Police said the victims were all known criminals.
“The people involved are considered criminal gang members who are involved in organized crime in Malmo,” the city’s police chief Stefan Sinteus said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The three dead were aged 19, 27 and 29, while the injured were 21, 30 and 32. Their identities have not been disclosed.
No suspects have been identified or arrested yet.
The Scandinavian country has a reputation for being safe, enjoying relatively low levels of crime in general.
But in the disadvantaged suburbs of the three biggest cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, violent crime has been on the rise in recent years.
Authorities have attributed the increase to rival gangs fighting over control of the drug and prostitution markets, and random settling of scores between loose gangs of youths who see no prospects in life.
Last year, 10 people were killed by gunfire in Malmo, a deeply segregated industrial town of 312,000 where more than 40 percent are of foreign origin.
In all of Sweden, more than 40 people were killed by gunfire in 2017, and 320 acts of violence with a firearm were registered, primarily in the three biggest cities, according to police statistics.
Police said Tuesday Malmo was home to three or four criminal gangs.
“There are a number of gang conflicts that we consider heated and this is one of them. But we had no indication this was going to happen,” Sinteus said.
A Malmo resident identified only as Sanna told news agency TT she heard the gunfire from her home 500 meters (yards) away.
“It sounds terrible but sometimes it feels like you don’t even raise an eyebrow anymore. Welcome to Malmo — it’s the Wild West here,” she said.
“It’s tragic, but this happens all the time nowadays. It shouldn’t be like this, but you don’t feel safe in Malmo anymore.”
Manne Gerell, a professor of criminology at Malmo University, told AFP gang violence had “gradually increased in recent decades, but the increase has accelerated the past few years.”
Malmo has “bigger problems with gang violence” than other Swedish cities.
“We don’t really know why,” Gerell said.
But one hypothesis “is that Malmo has more poverty and other social problems than other big cities, and in cities with more social problems there tends to be more crime, even though poverty is not necessarily the cause of the criminality.”
Swedish politicians expressed frustration on Tuesday.
Monday’s shooting “is a terrible crime and it just reminds us that our most important job is to bust organized crime,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told TT.
The head of the opposition conservative Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, said Sweden needed to “do more.”
“This has to stop... There are shootings almost every week in Sweden now,” he said.
“We need longer sentences to be able to lock up criminal gang members longer, but we also need to ban ex-convicts from being allowed to return to their old environments.”


Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

Updated 9 min 55 sec ago

Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

  • Simon Cheng went missing on Aug. 8 after sending his girlfriend a text message
  • Cheng is accused of violating the Public Security Administration Punishments Law

BEIJING: An employee of Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong who went missing earlier this month is being held in China, Beijing confirmed Wednesday.
The incident comes as relations between Britain and China have become strained over what Beijing calls London’s “interference” in pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for three months.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing the detained man had been “placed in administrative detention for 15 days as punishment” by Shenzhen police for breaking a public security law.
Geng said the employee was from Hong Kong and therefore the issue was an internal matter.
“Let me clarify, this employee is a Hong Kong citizen, he’s not a UK citizen, which is also saying he’s a Chinese person,” Geng said.
The man, named by his family as Simon Cheng, traveled to Shenzhen, a megacity on the China-Hong Kong border, for a one-day business meeting on August 8.
That night, Cheng returned via high-speed train and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.
“We lost contact with him since then,” the family said in a Facebook post.
Geng said the employee had violated the Public Security Administration Punishments Law — a law with broad scope aimed at “maintaining public order in society” and “safeguarding public security,” as well as making sure police and security forces act within the law.
The ongoing protests have raised fears of a Chinese crackdown in some form.
The unrest was initially triggered by a controversial law that would allow extradition to the mainland, but has since broadened into a call for wider democratic reforms.
Beijing has repeatedly warned Britain — the former colonial ruler of Hong Kong — against any “interference” in the protests, which erupted 11 weeks ago and have seen millions of people hit the streets calling for democratic reforms.
“Recently the UK has made many erroneous remarks about Hong Kong,” Geng said at the press briefing Wednesday.
“We once again urge the British side to stop gesticulating and fanning flames on the Hong Kong issue.”
With Beijing attempting to shape the narrative of the unrest in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the Shenzhen border, including checking the phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the protests.
The mainland metropolis of Shenzhen sits behind China’s “Great Firewall” --which restricts access to news and information — while Hong Kong enjoys liberties unseen on the mainland.
China promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997, including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the Internet and an independent judiciary.
Beijing also faced criticism in the past for detaining foreign nationals amid ongoing diplomatic spats.
Ottawa has urged Beijing to release two Canadian citizens detained in December amid escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained amid a diplomatic crisis sparked by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver on a US extradition bid.
Former diplomat Kovrig and consultant Spavor were picked up in China on suspicion of espionage days after her arrest, in a move widely seen as retaliation.
Friends of the missing employee staged a protest outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon to pressure the UK government to “save Simon.”
“Hong Kong people are still fighting to oppose the extradition bill, yet something like this happened without such a bill,” organizer Max Chung told AFP.
“If the Beijing government doesn’t explain to the public why this happened, then it is playing with fire. This is a warning to Hongkongers and to whoever wants to come to Hong Kong.”
Chung told the rally that “to our best understanding” his detained friend had not been involved with the ongoing protests that have engulfed the financial hub.
“Simon is a very good guy, and smart guy... I don’t think he would do anything stupid,” he added.