Stockholm Firefighters Attacked in Fourth Night of Rioting

Rioters outside Stockholm burned cars and trash cans, attacked schools and pelted emergency workers with rocks in a fourth night of violence sparked by a police shooting in one of Sweden’s most ethnically diverse suburbs.

As many as 30 cars were on fire in the Swedish capital’s southern suburbs, while 11 were set alight in the Husby area, north of the city center, where the unrest broke out four days ago, police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said by phone today. Police detained one person, a 16-year-old girl suspected of preparing an act of arson. That followed eight arrests since Tuesday.

Violence erupted about a week after police shot a 69-year-old man brandishing a knife in Husby, an area dotted with high rises built in the 1970s. The suburb is home to about 12,000 people, 60 percent of whom were born outside the Nordic country.

Sweden -- where immigrant unemployment is about twice the national average -- has suffered similar unrest before. In 2008, rioters clashed with police outside the southern Swedish city of Malmoe. Back then, the violence also spread to Stockholm’s Tensta and Husby suburbs.

“While the situation has become better in Husby, where a lot of local people have become engaged to calm things down,” it “has intensified on the southern side of the city,” Lindgren said. “We will continue to show our presence in the suburbs with strengthened resources.”

Angry, Sad

Last night, firefighters trying to rescue a restaurant in Skogaas were attacked by stone-throwing youths. Police officers were also attacked in Husby. Several other suburbs reported vandalism and fires.

“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 for the local Rinkeby-Kista council, which is a part of Stockholm’s local government, said in an interview. “This is not normal.”

Three police officers suffered minor injuries after being hit by rocks overnight, Lindgren said. None of them required hospitalization, he said. In Raagsved, 11 people were detained before being taken away in police buses. Police are working to identify more rioters, many of whom were masked.

School Fires

There were similar scenes on Tuesday, when about 30 cars were set on fire in areas with some of Sweden’s highest immigration rates. A Husby school and cultural center were set alight while garbage cans burned across other suburbs. A school was set on fire in Skaerholmen and a police station and buildings in central Jakobsberg were vandalized. The average age of those arrested on Tuesday was about 20, police said. They didn’t provide further details identifying those detained.

“I don’t know the reasons behind what’s happened, but perhaps these people didn’t go to school, didn’t apply for jobs and just haven’t tried,” Khoder said. “But it is important to mention that many of them did not come from Husby and that this is about a few criminal youths, not entire neighborhoods.”

The family of the man who was killed by police has urged rioters to stop.

It’s “the wrong way to react,” said Risto Kajanto, the dead man’s brother in-law, according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet. “We must discuss with the police and get along -- violence only feeds more violence.”

Police must also admit their mistakes in the shooting, Kajanto said. The deceased man, who emigrated from Portugal in the 1970s and his wife, who came from Finland, had been out eating in a restaurant on the day he was killed, according to Aftonbladet. On the way home, they were threatened by a group of youths, prompting the man to get a knife. He was later shot by police in his apartment, according to the newspaper.

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