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By On April 18, 2018

Sweden's deadly problem with hand grenades

]]> Europe Europe Sweden's deadly problem with hand grenades

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Zuniga thought the obje ct on the ground was a toy

A stark rise in incidents involving hand grenade explosions has become emblematic of the wider rise in violent crime in Swedish cities, report James Clayton and Caitlin Hanrahan for BBC Newsnight.

Daniel Cuevas Zuniga was cycling home from a night shift in southern Stockholm in January when he stopped to pick up an object on the path.

Police believe the 63 year old, who worked at an elderly people's home, thought the device was a toy.

But it was a hand grenade, which exploded as he touched it and killed him almost immediately.

His wife, Wanna, was riding ahead of him near Varby railway station. She was knocked to the ground by the blast.

Shrapnel marks can still be seen on a nearby lamppost.

"How could a hand grenade be on the bike path?" Wanna said later in an interview with local media.

"My view on Sweden has changed. I rea lly wonder how such a thing could happen... I am completely traumatised."

The number of explosions caused by hand grenades has increased in Sweden in recent years. There were fewer than five in 2014 but at least 20 in 2017, and a further 39 grenades were seized by police.

Image caption Shrapnel marks caused by the grenade explosion are still visible on a lamp post

The devices are easily obtained, says Reine Bergland of Stockholm police. They can be bought from gangs for just a couple of hundred Swedish kroner (about £20).

"Sometimes when they buy weapons they get grenades as part of the deal. They throw in a couple of hand grenades, so to speak."

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The rise in possession of hand grenades - mainly unused stock from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s - has come to symbolise Sweden's heated debate about violent crime as it heads towards an election in September.

The rate of violent crime in the suburbs of Sweden's big cities has worsened in recent years, in what officials blame on rising gang-related crime.

There were 306 shootings last year, which left 41 people dead. In 2011, there were 17 fatalities.

Image caption Reine Bergland, from Stockholm's police force, says it is easy to obtain hand grenades

The violence has turned some parts of Stockholm into "no-go zones" for paramedics, says Henrik Joh ansson, former head of Sweden's paramedics union.

"People who live in these areas are very scared to call the police or get help from ambulances. They are scared about consequences for them and their families."

Police have acknowledged 60 or so "vulnerable areas" but reject the description of "no-go zones", a highly loaded term in Sweden.

After all, violent crime in Sweden and who is to blame for it has become an ideological battlefield.

In February 2017 US President Donald Trump controversially linked the problem to the influx of migrants to Sweden.

"Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible," he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Several cars were set on fire after a riot in Rinkeby last year

A self-proclaimed humanitarian superpower, Sweden took in the highest number of asylum seekers per capita during the migrant crisis of 2015. Many were refugees fleeing war and abuses in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

There is very little evidence that the migrants are to blame for a rise in violent crime. But Sweden - so often the place that countries have looked to follow on social policy - has not been so successful at integrating migrants over the past 20 years.

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A short drive from the centre of Stockholm, the suburb of Rinkeby is an island of breeze-block flats and estates that even the snow struggles to beautify.

A riot last year gave the impression of a Swedish dystopia in this neighbourhood made up mainly of immigrants and their children.

But some people here are angry at the way their neighbourhoods have been stigmatised, particularly by the country's right wing, and say they seem to be drifting away from mainstream Sweden.

Image caption Hashim and Ameen helped set up an anti-violence group in Rinkeby

Hashim and Ameen, both of Somali origin, helped set up a local anti-violence group. They accept that some types of violent crime are increasing but accuse the government of failing to invest in these areas.

"Instead of finding a solution for the complex problems you call them a 'no-go zone'. It's just labelling it, making it easy for police to decide for people, instead of including people in the decisions," sai d Ameen.

Hashim added: "I don't think Swedish society is very open for immigrants, there's a lot of xenophobia."

Sweden's government denies it is immigrants who are causing the rise in crime.

"The people who are causing problems for us today, the vast majority of them are born in Sweden, and that's not a notion of migration. That's an issue of integration and an issue of social inclusion," said Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, a centre-left Social Democrat.

"One per cent of the population in our Swedish prisons are Syrians. One percent are from Afghanistan."

Image caption The justice minister denies that the rise in crime is linked to immigration

The government insists it is tough on crime and tackling its causes.

But as many people in Sweden become increasingly concerned about violence, it may be harder to convince them that accepting large numbers of migrants will not lead to further social problems down the line.

The justice minister accepts that violent crime will be an issue in September's election but would rather voters focus on Sweden's strong economic growth.

And the far right here are looking to emulate the successes of other anti-immigration parties elsewhere in Europe.

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Source: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden

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By On April 18, 2018

Social Democrats call for tougher rules on labour migration to Sweden

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Ylva Johansson, minister for employment and integration, presented the bid at the Social Democrats' headquarters in Stockholm at a press conference attended by The Local.

"Labour immigration should focus on professions where the right staff cannot be found on the Swedish labour market. Jobs where there is no labour shortage should primarily be filled by unemployed people already living in Sweden," reads the party's proposal.

It further suggests that a government agency should be in charge of assessing the need for certain skills in Sweden, taking into account advice from employers. By and large people outside the European Economic Area should not be offered jobs in Sweden unless there is a labour shortage in their area of work, it adds.

PREMIUM: How many work permits have been granted in 2 018, and to whom?

Asked by The Local if there is any evidence that Swedes will opt to do the kind of unskilled jobs taken by labour migrants in the country, Johansson replied:

"The very definition of a deficit profession (professions where staffing cannot be filled by the Swedish labour market) is that there isn't someone there to do the job or enough people who apply for that job, so it would be considered a deficit profession if those people don't exist."

"But it's the case today that we direct quite a lot of tax money towards creating jobs and making it easier for people who speak bad Swedish and have low competency to get their first job in Sweden. I don't think it's feasible that we subsidize through taxes the jobs that go to people who come as labour migrants from the other side of the world, that's a poor use of tax funds."

As for whether the Social Democrats are now singlin g out people who came to Sweden to work through legal means as a problem, the employment and integration minister contended that "it's not the people who are the problem, it's the employers who exploit people in vulnerable situations that are the problem".

And she insisted that there is no need for internationals to be concerned by an apparent sharpening in rhetoric from the Social Democrats on immigrants (including finance minister Magdalena Andersson saying earlier this week that "Sweden doesn't need foreign cleaners").

"Don't be concerned, we need many labour migrants and will in the future. We need to make it simpler to come here as a labour migrant within the areas where they're needed, and we want to ensure that serious employers are not out-competed by those who abuse the system," Johansson concluded.

Last year, around 15,500 people from non-EU countries received work permits in Sweden. Al most a third of those moved for jobs which required less than tertiary level education, data from the Swedish Migration Agency shows. In the first three months of 2018, around one in seven of the work permits granted fell into this category.

Sweden's existing rules on labour migration, put together by the centre-right Alliance and the Green Party in 2008, state that it falls to employers to determine whether they need foreign workers to fill jobs. Previously this had been decided by assessments of labour shortages from the Swedish Employment Agency and unions.

Sweden has taken in record numbers of immigrants in recent years, and concerns have previously been raised about how to plug a growing employment gap between people born in Sweden and abroad. By the end of 2017 the unemployment rate was only four percent for native Swedes, and 22.2 percent for foreign-born.

Source: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden

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By On April 18, 2018

Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Sweden return: 'A World Cup without me wouldn't be a World Cup'

4:50 AM ET

  • ESPN staff

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has pledged to be at the World Cup in Russia this summer, telling television host Jimmy Kimmel it "wouldn't be a World Cup" if he wasn't there.

Ibrahimovic, who retired from international competition after Euro 2016, represented Sweden in the World Cup in 2002 and in 2006.

But the striker, who moved to LA Galaxy from Manchester United last month, has frequently expressed a desire to end that retirement after Sweden defeated Italy in a playoff to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 12 years.

"I'm going to the World Cup, yes," Ibrahimovic said Tuesday on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" when asked if he would play.

"Will you have c leats on the bottom of your shoes or will they be regular shoes?" Kimmel asked.

"I just said I'm going to the World Cup," Ibrahimovic said. "If I say more, people will hang me, so I have to be careful what I say now."

"They will?" Kimmel asked. "That seems like an extreme reaction to you wanting to play in a soccer match."

"I mean, a World Cup without me wouldn't be a World Cup," Ibrahimovic said.

Ibrahimovic opened the interview by joking about the full-page advertisement that appeared in the Los Angeles Times before completing his transfer, with Kimmel pointing out that most athletes will thank their communities after they have left a city.

"I've had my eyes on Los Angeles and I wanted to give them my gift," Ibrahimovic said. "I was thinking a long time and then one day it came -- like, 'I should give myself.' That's why I came -- and you're welcom e."

He also acknowledged being surprised by his reception from fans upon arriving in Los Angeles but, in his typical confident fashion, said he understood it.

"In Europe, the football is huge, is big, so wherever I went ... people get crazy," Ibrahimovic said. "People told me, 'When you get to Los Angeles, don't worry. You can walk on the streets out there.' But since day one, no, it's busy everywhere. It's my own fault -- if you play the way I do, I mean."

Source: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden

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By On April 18, 2018

Iceland: Bitcoin heist suspect has likely fled to Sweden

April 18 at 7:48 AM

STOCKHOLM â€" A man suspected of masterminding the theft of about 600 computers used to mine bitcoins and other virtual currencies has likely fled to Sweden after breaking out of a prison in Iceland, officials said Wednesday.

Swedish police spokesman Stefan Dangardt says no arrest has been made in Sweden but Icelandic police have briefed them on the situation and issued an international arrest warrant.

Police in Iceland said they believe Sindri Thor Stefansson fled a low-security prison through a window and boarded a flight to Sweden at Iceland’s international airport in Keflavik.

Icelandic officials said it was unlikely that Stefansson had to show a passport at the airport since he traveled within Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel zone but the plane ticket he used was under someone else’s name.

Non-European Union member Iceland is member o f Europe’s borderless travel area.

Stefansson was among 11 people arrested for allegedly stealing the powerful computers in a series of four burglaries in December and January in what is considered Iceland’s biggest-ever heist.


This Oct. 15, 2014 photo made available by The Reykjavík Metropolitan Police shows Sindri Thor Stefansson. Icelandic police have informed their Swedish colleagues that a man suspected of masterminding the theft of about 600 computers used to mine bitcoins and other virtual currencies, likely fled to Sweden after a prison break, officials said Wednesday April 18, 2018. (The Reykjavík Metropolitan Police via AP) (Associated Press)

The stolen equipment, which still is missing, has been valued at almost $2 million. Icelandic media have the case the “Big Bitc oin Heist.” If used for its original purpose â€" to create new bitcoins â€" the thieves could turn a massive profit in an untraceable currency.

Police have arrested 22 people altogether, including a security guard, without solving the burglaries.

The escaped prisoner was being held at the Sogn prison in rural southern Iceland, 95 kilometers (59 miles) from the airport. The prison is unfenced and inmates have telephone and internet access.

Stefansson had been in custody since February. He was moved to the open prison 10 days ago, police said.

“He had an accomplice,” Police Chief Gunnar Schram told Visir, an online news outlet in Iceland. “We are sure of that.”

A passenger on the same flight to Sweden as the inmate told national broadcaster RUV that Iceland’s prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, was also on that flight.

Jakobsdottir was among five Nordic prime ministers who met with India’s prime minister Tuesday in Stockholm.

___

Egill Bjarnason contributed from Iceland.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden

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By On April 18, 2018

Sweden slammed for inviting 'mastermind' of 1979 Iranian hostage crisis

Masoumeh Ebtekar (Vahid Salemi/AP)Masoumeh Ebtekar (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Iranian dissidents this week condemned Sweden’s invitation to Masoumeh Ebtekar, the Islamic Republic’s vice president for women and family affairs, who was actively involved in the storming of the US embassy in Tehran 40 years ago.

Ebtekar, 57, was “an organizer and participant” in the hostage crisis, according to a statement signed by more than a hundred expat Iranians from across the globe.

“Mrs. Ebtekar has never expressed regret for that act,” according to the statement. “And yet the Swedish government, through Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, has invited her to Sweden.”

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In November 1979, Iranian students supportive of the Islamic Revolution, which had taken place a few months earlier, took American diplomats and citizens hostage and kept them captive for 444 days.

Ebtekar has been hosted by the European Union and individual European governments before. In 1979, she served as the Iranian hostage-takers’ spokesperson to the international media. She later wrote a book about her role in the event, known as the longest hostage crisis in modern history.

The Iranian dissidents, including Times of Israel blogger Neda Amin, said hosting Ebtekar was akin to supporting the Iranian storming of the US Embassy.

“We Iranians living in democratic western countries are greatly disturbed by the total lack of human dignity in this invitation. We believe the Swedish Ministry of Foreign A ffairs is supporting an illegal act, where an embassy was taken over by force and diplomats taken hostage, by inviting one of the masterminds behind that horrific act,” their statement reads.

“There are many distinguished Iranian women who are true leaders and are respected globally. They are human rights champions and proponents of gender equality. Sweden could have invited one of them instead.”

Iran’s Vice President and Minister of State for Environmental Protection, Masoumeh Ebtekar (C), walks with French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal (L), following their meeting in Tehran on August 28, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday described the Iranian storming of the US embassy as the beginning of a new age of terrorism.

“If I had to mark the day when terrorism began to break out onto the modern world, I would say it was in a dramatic event in Tehran 39 years ago: the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran and the capture of dozens of diplomats and civilians as hostages,” he said at a memorial event for Israeli diplomats who were killed while serving their country abroad. “Terror, and more terrorism, a terror that crosses borders.”

read more:
  • Israel & the Region
  • 1979 Iran hostage crisis
  • Iranian dissidents
  • Iran-Sweden relations
  • Neda Amin
  • Margot Wallström
  • Masoumeh Ebtekar
  • Sweden
  • Benjamin Netanyahu
  • I ranian terror
Source: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden

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By On April 18, 2018

'Strong boost to bilateral partnership' as Indian PM Modi visits Sweden

India's Prime Minister Modi was in Stockholm on Tuesday for the first visit to Sweden by an Indian PM in almost 30 years.

"Sweden has many sustainable modern solutions to offer India," Swedish PM Löfven said in a joint press conference from the two leaders.

Modi highlighted cooperation on defence, noting that Sweden has been an ally of India's for a long time.

"I am confident that in the future in this sector, especially in defence production, there will be many opportunities for bilateral cooperation."

READ ALSO: Indian PM Modi in Stockholm for Nordic summit

The two leaders presented a new innovation partnership agreement, for which the Swedish government will assign 50 million kronor to research agency Vinnova to develop smart cities.

According to Modi, meetings focus ed on "how Sweden can make the most of India's development" for the benefit of both countries, with discussions touching on "renewable energy, traffic and waste management" â€" issues that he said impact quality of life in India.

"They have huge planning and building work in front of them which they want to do in a climate smart way, and in that we have a very clear area of cooperation," Löfven commented.

Swedish business leaders also held a meeting with Modi in Stockholm on Tuesday, including representatives of Saab who are competing for a fighter jet contract from India worth an estimated 100 billion kronor.

Source: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden