Two small children have been injured in what was believed to be a gang shootout in Visättra south of Stockholm.
A five-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy who were out playing were hit by several shots in the legs, the newspaper Aftonbladet reported. A total of nine people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the shooting. The police described some of them as having links to gang networks.
The two children and an injured adult were taken to hospital, where the gunshot wounds were treated. Their wounds were described as not being life-threatening. According to the police, there is nothing to indicate that the children were targets.
The shooting is thought to have been preceded by a brawl on a bridge, which escalated when gunshots were heard.
A local described the incident to Aftonbladet as “uncomfortable”, adding that “you don't dare to let the children play by themselves anymore”.
A major police operation was subsequently carried out at the crime scene. Among others, the police officers went from door to door, gathering eyewitness reports and observations.
The incident sparked a strong outcry of anger and condemnation from Swedish politicians from across the political spectrum.
“This is indescribable darkness. It is difficult to take in, but we see that new borders are constantly being crossed in Sweden around this serious crime,” Moderates legal policy spokesman Johan Forssell told national broadcaster SVT, calling for “completely different measures to deal with growing gang crime”.
The national-conservative Sweden Democrats went so far as to call on the justice minister to resign.
“Enough now. Do the right thing. Kick Morgan Johansson out when the parliament opens again” the party's environmental policy spokesman Martin Kinnunen tweeted.
The Liberals also strongly condemned the shooting.
“It hit me in the stomach when I learned this morning that two children <...> were injured in the shooting south of Stockholm last night. The border has long been crossed and the fact that children are now falling victim to the gangland shootings confirms that Sweden is in a deep crisis,” Liberal leader Nyamko Sabuni wrote in a Facebook post.
Even Christian Democrat party leader Ebba Busch took to Twitter to decry the incident.
“Police murders and now playing toddlers. This evil spares no means to break new boundaries. Everyone's security is threatened. It is absolutely sad that Sweden has ended up here, but we must acknowledge what reality looks like. My thoughts are with the families affected,” Busch said.
Unlike may EU nations, Sweden has seen a spike in violent crime in recent decades and gradually worked its way up from bottom to top among EU nations in terms of fatal shooting statistics per year, breaking several annual records in a row. As the formerly peaceful Scandinavian country soared to the second spot, behind only Croatia in a recent EU survey, a recent report by the country's Crime Prevention Council (Brå) called this trend unique and emphasised that the criminal environments linked to illegal drug trafficking and criminal groups account for eight out of ten shootings.
Erik Nord, the head of the Greater Gothenburg police area, admitted a link between mass shootings and immigration, emphasising that “basically everyone who shoots or is shot in gang conflicts originates from the Balkans, the Middle East, or North or East Africa”. The victims were shot in the Flemingsberg district of Visättra, south of Stockholm, which is predominantly populated by immigrants.