COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark is to impose temporary border controls at the Swedish border next month, after Swedes were suspected of being behind a number of serious attacks this year in the Danish capital Copenhagen, the justice minister said on Thursday.
Sweden, which itself has had controls at the border since 2015 to try to stop asylum seekers from entering the country, welcomed the move.
Denmark is connected to Sweden via the Oresund bridge across a 16 km (10-mile) strait. Thousands of citizens commute across the border daily.
Two Swedish nationals are currently in custody in Denmark suspected of involvement in an explosion outside the Danish Tax Agency in August. Five Swedes are also in custody in Denmark on suspicion of carrying out two killings in a Copenhagen suburb in June. They have yet to be formally charged.
August’s attack prompted Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to say at the time that she considered strengthening controls at its border with Sweden.
“To counter the threat of serious cross-border crime, we are now strengthening the protection of the border against Sweden by introducing temporary border control and strengthening police efforts in border areas with Sweden,” Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said at a news conference on Thursday.
The controls will begin on Nov. 12, he said, adding police would aim to avoid causing delays for the commuters.
Both countries are members of the European Union, which needs to approve the move.
Sweden applauded Denmark’s action and said it was looking into the possibility of giving police more access to operate in border areas, including camera surveillance of vehicles
“We welcome that Denmark is taking action to fight crime in the Oresund region,” Sweden’s Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg said in a statement.
Violent crime in Sweden, with assailants using firearms and high explosives, has become a major political issue over the past years and prompted political moves such as one of the tougher gun laws and tougher sentencing for some offences.
Among the most highest profile incidents in recent months, a massive blast demolished parts of an apartment building in the southern town of Linkoping in June, injuring around 20 people, while a mother was gunned down in broad daylight on a street in Malmo, across the bridge from Copenhagen.
The cases have yet to result in convictions.
Haekkerup said a new center to prevent cross-border crime will be set up in Denmark and staffed by Danish police officers, who will be working closely with colleagues in Sweden.
Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, additional reporting by Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard in Stockholm; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Alison Williams
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