Finland far-right groups attack refugees

Dozens of protesters hurl rocks and fireworks at a bus carrying refugees arriving at a reception centre in Lahti.

A demonstrator wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit attends a protest against refugees in Lahti, Finland
Far-right protesters attacked a bus carrying refugees including children with stones and fireworks [Reuters]

Demonstrators have attacked a bus load of refugees arriving at a reception centre in southern Finland with stones and fireworks. 

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Between 30 and 40 protesters, one wearing a white robe like those worn by the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan in the US, waved the Finnish flag and shouted abuse at the bus in the southern town of Lahti late on Thursday.

Some demonstrators also hurled stones and let off fireworks at the vehicle carrying 40 refugees, including several young children, Finnish television YLE said.

“The protesters were young people from Lahti… At this point we have no indication that they would be somehow organised,” chief inspector Martti Hirvonen told the local Finnish outlet STT, according to the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, a petrol bomb was thrown at another reception centre in Kouvola, also in southern Finland, police said. No one was known to be hurt in the incidents, the Reuters news agency reported.

“The Finnish government strongly condemns last night’s racist protests against asylum seekers who had entered the country,” the government said in a statement.

“Violence or the threat of violence is always to be condemned.”

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Prime Minister Juha Sipila this month offered to take in refugees at his home, a move that attracted international attention but also criticism in Finland.

‘Christmas gift’

“Sipila’s noble-minded gesture was like a Christmas gift for human traffickers and refugees. The news about open doors in Finland have sent many young men on a journey towards the promised land,” Mika Niikko, a deputy from anti-immigrant party The Finns, said last week in a statement.

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So far this year more than 13,000 refugees have come to Finland, compared to just 3,600 in the whole of last year. 

In recent days, about 500 refugees per day have crossed the Finnish land border in Tornio, near the Arctic Circle, after a long journey through Sweden.

The Finnish government has launched random border checks and identity checks around the country amid the influx of people.

Finland was the only EU state to abstain from this week’s vote about relocating refugees across the member countries.

It accepted its 2 percent share of 120,000 refugees in question but said it was opposed to a mandatory quota system.

Refugees sleep after Thursday night's attack by a group of far-right activists [AP]
Refugees sleep after Thursday night’s attack by a group of far-right activists [AP]
Source: News Agencies