Rioters continue to battle police in Sweden

Nine cars and two schools torched as fifth night of violence sweeps immigrant-dominated areas of Stockholm.

Last Modified: 24 May 2013 06:30
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Police have said they would be calling in reinforcements from other parts of the country fearing more trouble [AFP]

At least nine cars have been torched and two schools and a police station set ablaze in riots in Stockholm's immigrant-dominated suburbs for the fifth straight night, police and firefighters say.

Early on Friday, police told Swedish news agency TT that eight people had been arrested so far for the night's rioting, but no injuries were reported.

Police said on Thursday they would be calling in reinforcements from other parts of the country as they prepared for more trouble.

The riots have sparked a debate in Sweden about the assimilation of immigrants, who make up about 15 percent of the population.

In Rinkeby, one of the city's immigrant-dominated areas, firefighters rushed late on Thursday to put out flames that engulfed six cars parked alongside each other.

Three more cars were torched in the Norsborg suburb, and a police station in Aelvsjoe was set on fire but quickly extinguished, police said.

Nursery school on fire

Firefighters said a school in another immigrant-heavy suburb, Tensta, was set ablaze but quickly extinguished. A nursery school in the Kista suburb was also on fire.

The previous night, the fire brigade had been called to some 90 different blazes, most of them caused by rioters.

Earlier, rioters hurled rocks at a local police station in the Kista district, near the suburb of Husby where the unrest began on Sunday night.

In the southern suburb of Skogaas, a restaurant was badly damaged after it was set on fire.

And police in Soedertaelje, a town south of Stockholm, said rioters threw stones at them as they responded to reports of cars set alight.

The troubles are believed to have been triggered by the fatal police shooting of a 69-year-old Husby resident last week after the man wielded a machete in public.

The man then fled to his apartment, where police have said they tried to mediate but ended up shooting him dead in what they claimed was self-defence.

Two people, including one police officer, were reported injured in the first four nights of rioting.

About 80 percent of the 12,000 residents in Husby are immigrants.

Generous refugee policy

Many of the immigrants who have arrived due to the country's generous refugee policy struggle to learn the language and find employment despite numerous government programmes.

In the past decade, Sweden has welcomed hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and the Balkans, among others.

This is not the first time the Scandinavian country has seen riots among immigrants.

In 2010, up to 100 youths threw bricks, set fires and attacked the local police station in Rinkeby for two nights.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister, came under pressure during question time on Thursday over the riots.

Erik Ullenhag, integration minister, attributed the violence to high unemployment and social exclusion in Sweden's immigrant-dominated areas.

In Husby, overall unemployment was 8.8 percent in 2012, compared to 3.3 percent in Stockholm as a whole, according to official data.

And a total of 12 percent in Husby received social benefits last year, compared to 3.6 percent in Stockholm as a whole.


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