Cars were set alight across Sweden overnight in what police believe was a coordinated attack orchestrated on social media.
About 80 cars were set on fire in western Sweden, in and around Gothenburg, and there were further incidents in Stockholm and Malmö.
“I am really surprised. My question for these people is ‘what the f*** are you up to?’” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said.
“You’re ruining things for yourselves, for your parents, for the whole community, for the neighbors and most of Swedish society is dead against this,” he told Swedish national radio’s news show Ekot.
“It seems very coordinated, almost like a military operation. Eighty cars — what is that all about?” asked Löfven.
Löfven said his government has already boosted resources for the Swedish police and is planning new measures to prevent attacks against emergency services that he said frequently occur when they respond to such events. The longer-term response to such crime, he said, is to reduce unemployment and improve education and infrastructure levels in housing estates.
The newspaper Aftonbladet published photographs of black-clad figures setting fire to cars in Gothenburg. Police in western Sweden said they are investigating the possibility that the arson attacks had been coordinated via social media.
Vehicles being set on fire shortly before the start of the school year has become commonplace in recent years, according to local media, but a police spokesman told Dagens Nyheter that “this is much much bigger than it used to be earlier, much more serious.”
Sweden goes to the polls in September and crime — together with immigration — has become a key issue in the campaign, mainly because of the far-right Sweden Democrats, who are predicted to make strong gains.
Most polls see Löfven’s Social Democrats, who won back power at the head of a leftist alliance in 2014 with 32 percent, dropping to about 24 percent. The Moderates — the traditional “law-and-order” party — are on track for about 20 percent, just below their historic average; and the Sweden Democrats are seen surging to at around 20 percent — and higher in some polls — from zero seats in 2006 and 12.9 percent in 2014.