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Please Hand In! Sweden Encouraging Criminals to Give Up Grenades

CC0 / / Hand grenades
Hand grenades - Sputnik International
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Sweden, which saw a dramatic spike in incidents involving hand grenades in recent years, is hoping to purge its streets of this plague with a government amnesty, during which criminals will be offered a rare opportunity to hand in explosives without getting punished.

In a bid to get grenades off Swedish streets, the government is planning a three-month amnesty between October 2018 and January 2019. During this period, criminals will be encouraged to hand in hand grenades without being penalized.

The government sees the arms amnesty as a serious step towards combating serious crime. The hope is that the hardened criminals who deal with illegal weapons will take the bait and voluntarily hand over their grenades to the police.

"During previous weapons amnesties, some thousands of weapons had come in, but we have no experience of this kind [with grenades]. This is the first time," Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told the Dagens Nyheter daily.

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The number of hand grenade explosions is on the rise in Sweden, peaking at 27 in 2016. The total number of police cases dealing with the use of hand grenades has risen from eight in 2014 to 52 in 2016.

The possession of explosives was previously linked to criminal gangs, who are suspected to have gained increased access to an assortment of arms, which they later use against each other and the authorities.

The most recent example involves a hand grenade attack on a police station in the city of Uppsala, north of Stockholm. The blast was later reported to be either retribution or scare tactics specifically targeting the police. Although no one was injured, the police classed the incident as devastation endangering the public and attempted murder.

"There were lots of people around, both residents and police officers. It was pure coincidence that no one was injured," the local police head Carin Götblad said at a subsequent press conference.

In October, the Swedish government promised increased protection for the police following a series of targeted attacks against officers' homes and police stations with gunshots, fireworks and cobblestones. Several of the violent attacks are allegedly linked to criminal gangs.

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Sweden's police chief Dan Eliasson stressed the severity of deliberate attacks against law and order, pledging to "strongly fight back." The government, however, is cautiously hopeful that the addressees of the campaign will comply with the amnesty campaign.

Swedish PM Stefan Löfven announced earlier this year that he wanted the minimum penalty for carrying a hand grenade in the country to be quadrupled. If adopted, the bill, which is currently under scrutiny, will tighten the punishment for hand grenade possession to at least two years in prison.

An arms amnesty has been carried out on three occasions in Sweden (1993, 2007 and 2013) with the intention of reducing the number of illegal arms circulating in the society. In the latest instance alone, over 15,000 firearms and 36,000 tons of ammunition were collected.

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