Explosion hits night club in Malmo, Sweden
A bomb squad and a team of technical specialists have been called to the Babel nightclub in central Malmo, police spokesman Magnus Lefèvre said, as cited by SVT. So far it is unclear what type of explosive device was used, but efforts to determine it are under way.
Although the incident took place in the evening, no clubgoers are believed to have been injured in the blast, he said. The motive for the explosion remains as yet unknown.
Witnesses cited by Sydsvenskan report that they saw a man on a moped driving away from the scene shortly before the explosion.
Fortunately, the club was closed at the time the explosion struck.
People living in the neighborhood were woken up by the blast at around 12:30am, and say it was so powerful it could be heard a significant distance away from the site.
"I was awakened by a big crowd. It was a terrible bang,” a witness said.
A year ago, the club’s entrance and a car parked nearby suffered considerable damage in a similar explosion, which also shattered the windows up to the third floor and on the adjacent building.
Swedish YouTube vlogger and journalist Peter Imanuelsen, or PeterSweden, who keeps track of bombings in the country, reported that the nightclub explosion was the 12th to rock Sweden in just 24 days.
On October 13, a huge explosion inflicted serious damage to an apartment building after an explosive device, reportedly dynamite, was thrown into a living room on the third floor. Luckily, no one was in the immediate area at the moment it went off, with police saying that otherwise the injuries would have been fatal.
Five days later, an explosion wreaked havoc at the police station in the southern Swedish town of Helsingborg.
“The whole entrance has been blown away. The windows are shattered and there's damage to the doors themselves,” police described the damage to the station at the time, calling the incident “not just an attack against society, but on everyone’s safety.” The explosion was preliminarily linked to gang crime, which is on the rise in southern Sweden, where Malmö is located.
Malmö is one of the cities recently added by the Swedish police to the list of areas considered to be “especially vulnerable” in terms of challenges they pose to law enforcement. These communities, often labeled “no-go zones” in the media, typically host large populations with migrant backgrounds and suffer from acute poverty and high unemployment. Malmö is not an exception, as some 31 percent of its population is estimated to be born abroad and some 41 percent of the residents have a non-Swedish background.
The city has seen an upward spiral of gang-related violence in the recent years, with police in January appealing to locals to hold suspects responsible for various crimes, such as murder and rape. The city has long been struggling to quell the violence, associated with the conflicts erupting between different gangs and ethnic groups. In 2015, Lars Förstell, a spokesperson for the city’s police, told RT that about 30 to 40 people who are believed to be armed are involved in gang-related crimes linked to drug trafficking and other illegal actions in the city.