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Swedish refugee shelter worker said killed by asylum seeker

Alexandra Mezher, 22, allegedly stabbed to death by 15-year-old refugee as country reels from migrant influx

Police investigators are seen outside a home for juvenile asylum seekers in Molndal in southwestern Sweden on January 25, 2016 following the stabbing death of a shelter employee. (Adam Ihse/TT News Agency/AFP)
Police investigators are seen outside a home for juvenile asylum seekers in Molndal in southwestern Sweden on January 25, 2016 following the stabbing death of a shelter employee. (Adam Ihse/TT News Agency/AFP)

A Swedish refugee shelter worker, 22, was stabbed to death Monday by a teenage male asylum seeker in the western Swedish coastal town of Molndal, near Gothenburg, authorities said.

According to the Daily Mail, a UK daily, the teenage boy allegedly stabbed Alexandra Mezher Monday at about 8 a.m. local time at a shelter for unaccompanied teenage migrant minors. She succumbed to her injuries in hospital.

The incident marks the latest in a string of high-profile attacks, including sexual assaults, that authorities in Stockholm and elsewhere in the country have ascribed to asylum-seeking young men from Middle Eastern countries.

There was no immediate indication of the suspect’s motive. Police would not say his precise age or nationality, but said he had been arrested for murder. Swedish news agency TT said he was 15 years old.

Employees at the shelter reportedly held the boy down until police showed up.

A cousin of Mezher, herself from a Lebanese family, told Swedish media she was “a person who wanted to do good, who wanted to be good. And then he murdered her when she was doing her job. We have cried a lot. She was such a nice person, warm and happy.”

In an indication at growing tensions over the unprecedented influx of Muslim-world migrants to the continent, the cousin is quoted as saying “it is the Swedish politicians’ fault that she is dead.”

Official Swedish government figures show the number of violent incidents at refugee shelters rose from 148 in 2014 to 322 in 2015, while attacks against shelters spiked as well, with at least two-dozen facilities for migrants being targeted for arson attacks in 2015.

Like the rest of Europe, Sweden has been struggling with the continent’s biggest migration crisis since World War II. A country of 9.8 million, Sweden took in more than 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015, putting it among the EU states with the highest proportion of refugees per capita.

It has since tightened its asylum rules to curb the migrant flow.

“These kinds of calls are becoming more and more common. We’re dealing with more incidents like these since the arrival of so many more refugees from abroad,” police spokesman Thomas Fuxborg said Monday.

Police have asked the government for 4,100 more officers and staff to deal with the migrants and the increased threat of terrorism generally across the continent.

“We are forced to respond to many disturbances in asylum reception centers. In some places, this takes significant police resources. This was not the case six months ago and it means that we won’t be able to respond as effectively in other areas,” National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson was quoted as saying.

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