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Machine guns now a part of Christmas in Sweden

Armed officers will also be among Stockholm's Christmas sights this year as the city braces for a possible terrorist attack. Authorities have already built several barriers to prevent a car attack, but increasing the number of patrols in the city centre is also an alarming sign of the growing terror threat.

Stockholm is heading into the upcoming holidays in full anti-terrorism preparedness.

According to the latest measure announced by the government, people are to expect an unprecedented police presence this year, with armed officers securing Christmas crowds.

"This is a security measure," police spokesperson Per Fahlstrom has said.

Due to the pandemic, the number of Christmas shoppers will be significantly lower this year than ususal, but law enforcement will be on high alert, deploying officers with machine guns to the city centre for "tactical reasons".

The new decision is part of a package of measures designed to ensure that people are more protected against terrorism during Christmas. According to a recent announcement, the city spent some 8 million kronas (€785,000) to install various barriers in the busier areas of the city centre to avoid a repeat of earlier terrorist attacks when the perpetrators drove their vehicles into the crowd.

Rakhmat Akilov, who ran over and killed several people during the 2017 attack, said that he wanted to celebrate the anniversary of the attack in prison with cake and chocolate. A journalist of Aftonbladet noted with concern that the terrorist had not regretted his act at all.

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