Swedish city on edge in shooting spree

/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

A string of up to 15 shootings has targeted people of immigrant background in the southern city of Malmo over the past year, police said Friday.

Police spokesman Borje Sjoholm said the attacks began in Malmo in December, although Swedish media report they include the fatal shooting last October of a 20-year-old woman who was sitting in a car.

Police are not sure if an attack Thursday evening is related. Two women described by police as "immigrants from a European country" were wounded by shots fired through their apartment window, the BBC reported. In recent weeks, two men of ethnic minority background have been wounded while waiting at bus stops in the city, the BBC said.

Sjoholm said Friday that the attacks — seemingly targeting people with an immigrant background — appear to be linked, although officers are not sure if Thursday's shooting is connected to the previous attacks.

Investigators say the shooter is a man between the ages of 20 and 40, but have given no other details. They believe a large-caliber handgun was used in most of the attacks.

Tahmoures Yassami, who leads the Iranian-Swedish Association in Malmö, told the English-language website The Local that many residents were frightened.

"We have said to our families to try to stay home in the evenings," he told the website. "We have asked our children to always have their mobile phones on, so we can reach them."

Malmo was the scene of riots in December 2009 after an Islamic center was closed.

A spate of racially motivated attacks in and around the capital, Stockholm, from August 1991 to January 1992 left one dead and 10 others wounded. The shootings became known as the "Laser Man" attacks after a laser-aiming device was used by the gunman.

John Ausonius, now 57, was convicted in the case and jailed for life in 1994.