Sweden’s national bomb squad has been called out to 30 blasts in the last two months – and 100 this year – with a police analyst calling it ‘incredible’ there have been no fatalities.
In the early hours of Friday, police were sent out to an explosion in central Malmö. Windows were shattered, a car damaged, but no one was injured. Three suspects were held shortly after the blast.
Just a couple of hours later police were called out to a blast in Växjö. The same morning a car was demolished in a blast at a car park in Landvetter, Gothenburg. No one was injured.
They were the latest incidents in a trend that has so far seen twice the number of explosions in Sweden this year as the same period last year. The Local investigated what’s behind the blasts in this article this week.
“If you also compare to other countries in Europe and the world that are as developed as we are, we stick out,” Ylva Ehrlin, national bomb squad analyst, told Swedish news agency TT on Friday.
The bomb squad is also called out to suspected bombs that are discovered before they detonate. So far this year there have been 76 such cases, according to Ehrlin’s breakdown of the statistics.
“It’s an unacceptably large number,” she said.
“This is an undesirable development. It is very serious, a social problem. You can’t just remove the explosives and the tools, you also have to find the cause. In the past there were shootings, now we’ve got explosions.”
There have been no deaths linked to the blasts in the past year, but several injuries.
In December 2018 a teenager almost died in a blast in Malmö, for which he was later charged on suspicion of being behind the explosion. In September 2019 a female student was seriously injured when she happened to walk past an explosive device just as it detonated in the street in Lund.
The blasts vary in size, and many of them are minor. But a major explosion in Linköping earlier this year was described as 30 to 40 times as big a charge as previous attacks, with around 25 people lightly injured and police saying it was a “miracle” no one was seriously hurt. But Ehrlin believes it may just be a matter of time.
“The risk is very high. We have so far been incredibly lucky, you just don’t have that kind of luck. Take the explosion in Linköping for example. It is incredible that no one has died,” she told TT.
She argues that the explosions are more dangerous for bystanders than many other crimes.
“You control a weapon until you fire it, and you’re usually aiming at the intended target. You don’t control an explosive charge in the same way, especially not if you are a criminal without knowledge of the area. You don’t have any control over the target and the effect,” said Ehrlin.