Monday’s statement by Swedish police stated that they consider violent riots in several Nordic cities and towns to be extremely serious crimes against society. They suspect that some protestors are connected with criminal gangs who deliberately target police.

Sweden is a nation with 10 million people. Since Thursday, there has been unrest, scuffles and arson in the country. Some police officers have been injured and some protesters have been left with injuries. The nation was provoked by Rasmus Paludan, a Danish far-right politician. He planned Quran burnings throughout the country.

“We suspect that those involved in the riots have links to criminal groups,” said Anders Thornberg, National Police Commissioner. He also stated that some of those “criminal people” are well-known to police. “I have spoken to the public prosecutor in order to prosecute these people.”

Jonas Hysing, Commander of Sweden’s National Police, stated Monday that 26 officers and 14 people – including protesters and other people – were injured in the riots. He also said that 20 police vehicles were destroyed or damaged.

Sunday night saw the latest riots break out in Malmo. The third-largest Swedish city was ravaged by an angry mob of mostly young people who set fire to cars tires, garbage and other debris in the Rosengard district. Protesters hurled stones at police officers, who responded with tear gas. The situation was calmed by police on Monday.

In Malmo, which is home to many people from other countries, 11 people were taken into custody and three others were arrested. There were no reports of serious injuries.

On Thursday, Malmo was not the only victim of riots and unrest. Violence has also been reported in Stockholm (the central city of Orebro), Norrkoping, Linkoping, and Landskrona (eastern cities).

Hysing stated that police were forced to use firearms in self-defense. Trois people were injured in Norrkoping, when they were struck by ricochets while police fired warning shots at a crowd.

Hysing stated that there was a lot that suggests that police were targeted. He also said that some protesters are suspected in attempted murder, assault, and violence against a official.

Thornberg, Hysing, and others stressed that Paludan was the main target of the rioters, and not the Swedish police and society. Many Swedes view Paludan merely as an agent provocatur, and his Stram Kurs party (Hard Line), which has an anti-immigrant and anti-Islam agenda.

Thornberg, Sweden’s supreme police chief said that “criminal individuals”, who took advantage Paludan’s Swedish Easter Tour and joined the riots are the main suspects in the violence. After Paludan’s initial demonstrations in which he was arrested, unrest quickly escalated. Counterprotesters were present in many locations last week.

“We have to stop this from happening.” Thornberg spoke out in reference to the riots, saying that what we see is “very serious crime”.

Morgan Johansson, Justice Minister, stated Monday that he still has great faith in the Swedish Police despite the disturbances of the weekend. He also pledged to provide more resources for law enforcement.

Johannsson stated that police officers cannot do anything else when they find themselves in such dangerous and aggressive situations. “We can’t accept this kind of violence from perpetrators.”

According to reports, the Foreign Ministry of Iraq summoned Sweden’s charge-d’affaires on Sunday over Paludan’s planned Quran burnings. This was in protest at Sweden’s relationship with the Muslim world.