Youths have vandalized Swedish cities unhindered overnight, setting fire to dozens of cars in what are believed to be coordinated acts of arson. The attacks infuriated officials, with a minister demanding “the thugs” be punished.
Masked youths went on the rampage in various Swedish cities on Monday evening, setting ablaze around 80 vehicles, according to police. Cars in parking lots were seen burning in dramatic footage taken in Gothenburg, Trollhättan, Lysekil and Falkenberg, as well as in Stockholm and Uppsala, where an additional 13 vehicles were attacked, according to the Expressen tabloid.
MASSIVE UNREST ALL OVER SWEDEN TONIGHT
60 cars have been set on fire in Gothenburg, rocks thrown at police in Trollhättan
Reported places of unrest:
Sweden is resembling a warzone – Please SHARE! pic.twitter.com/e3FgF6rEpN
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) August 13, 2018
The series of arson attacks are believed to be linked, with Gothenburg police suggesting that the perpetrators, some of whom are identified as underage, used social media to coordinate the acts, spokesperson Ulla Brehm told SVT.
Up to 60 youths were involved, with the largest group apparently having gathered in Trollhattan, north of Gothenburg. However, the police decided not to take action on the spot and no arrests were reported. Arson attacks have previously wreaked havoc in Sweden and police were sometimes unable to catch the perpetrators.
The violence comes just three weeks before the Swedish general election on September 9. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was infuriated by the violence, saying he was “pissed off.”
“What the hell are you doing?” he said, referring to the attackers, as reported by the Local citing Swedish radio.
Justice and Interior Minister Morgan Johansson called the attacks “despicable,” adding that he hopes “the thugs” get arrested. The minister also said that last year the government had increased the punishment for aggravated vandalism, which can now be met with up to six years in jail.
Sweden has recently been hit by significant crime waves, including instances of vandalism, rapes and murders, with police accused of failing to handle them in some quarters. Last year, the country saw more than 300 confirmed shooting incidents, which left 41 people dead and 135 injured.
The police simply lacks adequate resources to combat the scourge of crime that is sweeping parts of the country, Swedish Democrats party member Nima Gholam Ali Pour told RT. He also said that the influx of migrants has badly exacerbated the social and criminal situation.