DARK-SKINNED residents of Sweden’s third-largest city were put on alert yesterday by police.
The authorities believe that a would-be serial killer is behind more than a dozen shootings targeting ethnic minorities.
A young woman has been killed and eight people wounded during 15 shootings in Malmo over the past year. In a city already plagued by racial tensions, police issued a direct warning to ethnic minorities.
“If you have dark skin, you should be extra cautious. If you are in the risk group – that is, being coloured – then you should avoid lonely places like bus stops at night,” said Lars-Haakan Lindholm, a police spokesman.
Some believe the shootings are linked to the rise of the far Right after the Sweden Democrat Party won its first seats in parliament last month on a platform of halting immigration.
Malmo, a city of 300,000 in southern Sweden, is home to a substantial ethnic minority community, including up to 500 Iraqis. It has long been a place where the streets have been disfigured by riots over immigrant rights.
The shootings started a year ago with the murder of Trez West Persson, a 20-year-old student with no known enemies. She was sitting in a car with a male friend from an ethnic minority who was also hit but survived.
“She was executed,” said Jimmy Persson, her father. “She called us from Malmo on the Friday night. She and a friend were going to the cinema. She was so happy and the last thing she said was that she was going to call us next day.”
It was never clear why she was killed. But the shootings continued in Malmo.
Police are not revealing which attacks are being linked, although their announcement came after two men, both of ethnic minority origins, were shot in the back. The most recent victim, a 28-year-old man wounded on Tuesday night, local time, has had the bullet removed.
“It struck 5cm from the spine,” said J.B. Cederholm, of the Malmo Police Department. “The last two shootings were identical – black men have been shot from behind at bus stops.”
The gunman shot from medium range, he added.
The marksman has been seen once by a victim but the only detail the police have released is that he is male.
“It does appear that there are racist motives,” added Mr Lindholm, who said Malmo police were receiving help from profilers from the national police force. “This is our No 1 top priority right now,” he added. “We have established a special unit here in Malmo to investigate between 10 and 15 similar crimes . . . They are all shootings with no apparent motive.”
Borje Sjoholm, the detective leading the investigation, said: “There is a concrete connection between some of the cases. It is the same weapon. It is a pistol or a revolver.”
The case has revived memories of the Laser Man shootings in the 1990s. John Ausonius earned his nickname from the red dot of his rifle’s laser sight that targeted his victims, most of whom were from ethnic minorities.