Police fear losing control of Stockholm after fourth night of riots leaves restaurants gutted and ruins smoking
- Another night of violence shook Stockholm in early hours of Thursday
- Cars were torched in at least 15 suburbs in the Swedish capital
- Riot mobs attacked police and emergency services with bricks and rocks
- Violence began on Sunday night and has spread across to several suburbs
Huge swathes of Stockholm were in ruins today after a fourth night of rioting left hundreds of cars ablaze and saw mobs attacking police with bricks.
The violence, which began in the immigrant enclave of Husby on Sunday night after police shot an elderly man who threatened them with a machete, has now spread to 15 suburbs.
It has morphed into a protest by largely immigrant demonstrators about underlying racism in Swedish society – and an apparent lack of employment opportunities.
Last night, officers battled desperately to keep the city under control as a police station was set alight and fire services were kept from a major blaze by an angry stone-throwing mob.
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Stockholm burning: A car is set ablaze in a suburb north of the Swedish capital last night
Out of control: Vehicles were set on fire in at least 15 suburbs in Stockholm during yet another night of violence
Chaos: Police have been under attack by large mobs, pelting them and fire services with bricks and heavy rocks, preventing them from putting out fires across the city’s fringes
‘The local families I met yesterday are extremely angry and sad and they hope those responsible get harsh sentences,’ Adam Khoder, a member of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party at Rinkeby-Kista council, which governs Husby, said.
In Skogås, south of Stockholm, emergency services were kept from a fire in a restaurant when a mob of youths pelted the fire engines with rocks.
Police had to be called to ‘chase away’ the violent gang before work could begin to control the flames.
In nearby Rågsved, yobs set fire to the police station – the second police station to come under attack in two days.
In Husby, where the violence started earlier this week, police found themselves under attack by youths throwing bricks and large stones.
By 2am this morning, Stockholm’s Fire Services had dealt with 75-80 incidents, a majority of which were related to the riots.
As well as setting cars ablaze, rioters also attacked a police station and a school and nursery
The unrest appears to have been sparked after police shot and killed a man wielding a machete on Sunday
The riots have seen gangs, a majority of which have been made up of teenage boys, attack schools, nurseries and shops, breaking windows and setting buildings ablaze.
‘Some are 12,13 years old, some are teens, and tonight we’ve seen some adult criminals among them,’ Diana Sundin, spokesperson for Stockholm Police, said on Wednesday morning.
‘We have seen violent riots, car fires, and an incredibly hateful mood. It is totally unacceptable.
‘There has been a huge amount of stones thrown, everything from bricks to rocks weighing five, six kilos (13lbs),’ she told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
Twelve youths aged 15 to 19 have been arrested following the riots, with the first detention this afternoon.
One 18-year-old man is being held under suspicion of arson. He has several convictions including robbery, theft and assault, three of which were for assaulting an officer.
The violence has sparked debate in the country on the effect of the government’s social policies
Many believe the riots are a result of anger at high unemployment and fewer opportunities among immigrants
A number of cars in the Stockholm suburb of Husby, which has a high immigrant population
A boy walks to school past a burned out truck (right) and a couple assess the damage done to a van (left)
Policemen secure an apartment building after youths rioted in Husby, northern Stockholm
The disorder has intensified despite Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt taking a stand against the riots saying Sweden will not be controlled by ‘hooligans’.
‘It is important to remember, burning your neighbour’s car is not an example of freedom of expression, it is hooliganism,’ Fredrik Reinfeldt said yesterday.
‘It is important to prove that we are not controlled by those committing violent acts.
‘We have groups of young men who believe that you can and should use violence to change society. Let us be clear. This is not okay. We cannot be governed by violence.’
The unrest appears to have been sparked by the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby on Sunday, which prompted accusations of police brutality.
It has provoked fierce debate in the country, which prides itself on a reputation for social justice, on the government’s economic policies.
Critics say immigrant ghettos have been created where unemployment is high and there are few opportunities for residents.
Statement: Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt condemned the riots and said Sweden would not be ‘governed by violence’ (file photo)
Suburbs such as Husby have been described as immigrant ‘ghettos’ with high unemployment
Stockholm, one of Europe’s richest capitals, has the fastest inequality rate of any advanced OECD economy
Right-wing anti-immigrant party, the Sweden Democrats, has risen to third in polls ahead of a general election due next year, reflecting unease about immigrants among many voters.
After decades of practising the ‘Swedish model’ of generous welfare benefits, the country has been reducing the role of the state since the 1990s, spurring the fastest growth in inequality of any advanced OECD economy.
While average living standards are still among the highest in Europe, governments have failed to substantially reduce long-term youth unemployment and poverty, which have affected immigrant communities worst.
Some 15 per cent of the population is foreign-born, the highest proportion in the Nordic region.
Unemployment among those born outside Sweden stands at 16 per cent, compared with just six per cent for native Swedes, according to OECD data.
Among 44 industrialised countries, Sweden ranked fourth in the absolute number of asylum seekers, and second relative to its population, according to U.N. figures.