COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A 13-year-old boy found dead in woods near his home in the suburbs of Stockholm earlier this month was the latest victim of a deadly gang war in Sweden, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Milo, who was only identified by his first name, had been shot in the head in a chilling example of "gross and completely reckless gang violence,” prosecutor Lisa dos Santos said. He is believed to have been shot in Haninge, south of Stockholm. She declined to give further details due to the ongoing investigation.
Swedish media, which have published photos of Milo with the permission of his family, said the body had been moved to the woods after the boy — who was not known to the police — was killed. He was reported missing on Sept. 8 and his body was found by a passerby three days later.
Criminal gangs have become a growing problem in Sweden, with an increasing number of drive-by shootings, bombings and grenade attacks. Most of the violence is in Sweden’s three largest cities: Stockholm, Goteborg and Malmo.
As of Sept. 15, police had counted 261 shootings in Sweden this year, of which 34 were fatal and 71 people were wounded.
In September alone, the Scandinavian country saw four shootings, three of them fatal, in Uppsala, west of Stockholm, and in the Swedish capital. One of the victims was the 13-year-old Milo.
In June, a man with an automatic weapon opened fire in the early morning outside the entrance to a subway station in Farsta, a suburb south of Sweden’s capital, and struck four people.
A 15-year-old boy died shortly after of his wounds, with the second victim, a 43-year-old man, dying later. Two men in their 20s were later arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder. Sweden's Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer then said that more than 20 shots had been fired and described the shooting as “domestic terrorism.”
The violence reportedly is fueled by a feud between a dual Turkish-Swedish man who lives in Turkey and his former lieutenant whose mother, a woman in her 60s, was shot Sept. 7 and later died of her wounds.
Sweden’s center-right government has been tightening laws to tackle gang-related crime, while the head of Sweden's police said earlier this month that warring gangs had brought an “unprecedented” wave of violence to the Scandinavian country.
“Several boys aged between 13 and 15 have been killed, the mother of a criminal was executed at home, and a young man in Uppsala was shot dead on his way to work,” police chief Anders Thornberg told a news conference on Sept. 13. He estimated that some 13,000 people are linked to Sweden's criminal underworld.
Swedish police said that “seen from the criminals’ point of view, there are several advantages to recruiting young people. A child is not controlled by the police in the same way as an adult. Nor can a child be convicted of a crime. A young person can also be easier to influence and exploit.”