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Sweden says to tighten laws to fight terrorism

FILE PHOTO: Sweden's flag is seen among flowers near the crime scene in central Stockholm April 8, 2017, the day after a hijacked beer truck plowed into pedestrians on Drottninggatan and crashed into Ahlens department store. REUTERS/Gideon Malherbe - File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s center-left government said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement with the main opposition parties to beef up anti-terrorism laws after a series of attacks around Europe.

Sweden has taken a number of measures in recent years to combat extremism but plans have been speeded up since April, when a truck mowed down pedestrians on a busy shopping street in Stockholm, killing five.

The government said new measures would include increased checks on individuals considered a possible threat, greater information sharing between authorities and safety improvements in public places such as sports stadiums.

“The most important thing is that we are united against terrorism across the political spectrum,” Minister for Home Affairs Anders Ygeman said.

“We are going to go forward robustly in making it more difficult for terrorists and increasing security in our country.”

The government has already said it will fast-track plans to make it a criminal offence to be a member of what it deems a terrorist organization.

In 2010 it became illegal to recruit or encourage people to commit terrorist crimes. That was extended last year to include travel to fight abroad or undergo military training and helping to finance such trips.

Passport laws were also tightened in 2016 to make it more difficult to trade in Swedish passports.

The new measures will require the approval of parliament.

Reporting by Stockholm Newsroom; Editing by Gareth Jones