Candles placed after the death of a girl in Botkyrka, Sweden, August 2, 2020. - ALI LORESTANI / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP

In Sweden, the shooting death of a 12-year-old girl sparked a stir on Monday near Stockholm. The country has faced a worrying increase in shootings linked to criminal gangs for several years.

The teenager, who was in all likelihood not targeted, was fatally injured on the night of Saturday to Sunday outside a fast food restaurant in Norsborg, a modest but usually quiet suburb in the south of the Swedish capital, police said. Since the facts, flowers and candles have been placed to form a heart at the scene of the crime, noted an AFP journalist.

Drug trafficking involved

The Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson expressed to the agency TT his "emotion and disgust" at a case which elicits many reactions. According to Swedish media, two members of a criminal gang present at the scene were the real targets of the numerous shots. Globally peaceful with one of the lowest homicide rates in the world, Sweden has for several years been faced with a problem of explosions and shootings targeting buildings, vehicles and, more recently, people.

In the first half of 2020, 20 people were killed in 163 shootings in Sweden, according to police. Last year, 42 people were killed, for 334 incidents. Cases are rarely resolved, but according to the Swedish Crime Prevention Council, the increase in cases is linked to drug trafficking. In 2019, the government unveiled 34 measures to combat the problem, including increased numbers and penalties.

Besides Stockholm and its suburbs, the phenomenon hits the cities of Malmö, Göteborg, or Helsinborg. The debate came to a head last August when two women were gunned down within weeks of each other, including one in broad daylight in Malmö as she carried her baby - which survived - in her arms. The girl killed this weekend is not the youngest victim: in 2015, a 4-year-old child was killed with three adults in a car bomb explosion.


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