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‘She had dreams’: Tributes paid to girl as police vow to bring killers to justice

Police and Swedish decision-makers vowed to do everything to bring the shooters to justice as friends paid tribute to the 12-year-old girl killed south of Stockholm.

'She had dreams': Tributes paid to girl as police vow to bring killers to justice
Local residents gathered at the petrol station where the girl was shot dead. Photo: Ali Lorestani/TT

Police were called to the shooting at 3.27am on Sunday at a fuel station in the Norsborg area of Botkyrka, south of Stockholm. The girl was taken to hospital, but later died from her injuries. According to unconfirmed reports in several Swedish newspapers, she was hit by a stray bullet and had not been the intended target.

Friends of the girl and local residents gathered on the site on Sunday to pay tribute to her.

“She was always full of energy and wanted what's best for everyone. She had dreams. She deserves all the best,” a 13-year-old friend who had come to the fuel station to light candles, told newspaper Expressen.

A mother-of-three whose son was also friends with the girl and had lived in the area her entire life, told Aftonbladet that her son had been planning to go swimming with the girl the following day. She said she and her children used to go to the fuel station regularly to eat at the nearby PizzaHut or McDonalds.

“We felt safe, but now there is no safety. I don't know what it would feel like to come here and eat in the future,” she said.

Meanwhile, police and decision-makers pledged to continue the crackdown on violent crime in Sweden.

“My thoughts are first and foremost with the girl's family and loved ones, but also to everyone in the area. Nobody should have to fear shootings and other violence where they live,” said national police chief Anders Thornberg in a comment to TT.

“We will investigate and do everything in our power to bring the people behind this terrible act to justice. We will collect witness statements, forensic evidence and all material that could help us move the investigation forward. But how successful we are also depends on those who know anything about the incident coming forward and helping us solve the crime.”

“We are going to set things right when it comes to increasingly serious violence in society, but in order to do that we have to continue to work together. When school, social services, police, civil society and citizens work together we will eventually succeed.”

Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg said he was “shocked and disgusted”.

“I am aware that no words are enough for those who have lost a child in this awful way, but I still want to say that our thoughts are with you and that we share your grief in these difficult times. The government will continue to expand society's crime-fighting capacity with more police, tougher punishments and preventive work,” he wrote in a comment to TT.

Sweden launched a so-called “special national incident” in November 2019 to look into violent gang crime incidents, but the number of shootings increased in the first four months of 2020 compared to last year.

Fifteen people were killed in 98 shootings between January and April, according to police statistics released earlier this year. In the same period of 2019, there were 81 shootings with 15 people killed.

However, the number of fatal shootings has remained relatively unchanged compared to previous years. Nine people were killed in 76 shootings during the same four months in 2018, and the year before that a total of 16 people were killed in 99 shootings.

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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