Swedish Rioters Torch Cars, Target Schools as Violence Spreads

Arsonists targeted schools and set cars alight in Stockholm in a sixth night of rioting by youths as the unrest spread to some of Sweden’s smaller cities.

While the capital was calmer than at the height of the violence, when rocks were thrown at police and firefighters, as many as 30 cars were torched and attempts were made to burn down three schools overnight, Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said today by phone. The number of incidents in the city has been declining since riots erupted there in the early hours of May 20, he said.

In Oerebro, a gang set fire to six cars, tried to burn a school and vandalized a police station, police spokesman Mats Nylen said by phone from the city about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Stockholm. Police believe some of the rioters came from elsewhere in Sweden to incite unrest, as was the case in Stockholm, he said. Seven people held for attacking a police station in Aelvsjoe the previous night are from other Stockholm suburbs or from the southern town of Linkoeping, state-run Swedish Television reported. One came from Denmark, SVT said.

Sweden, where immigrant unemployment is about twice the national average, experienced similar unrest in 2008, when rioters clashed with police outside the southern city of Malmoe. That outburst of violence also spread to Stockholm’s Tensta and Husby suburbs. The latest unrest started in Husby, and spread to other immigrant neighborhoods around the capital.

The shooting of a 69-year-old local man was cited as reason for the unrest by Megafonen, a group that claims to represent Husby residents. The man, who came from Portugal in the 1970s, was on his way home from a restaurant when he and his Finnish wife were threatened by a group of youths, prompting the man to get a knife, according to Aftonbladet. He was later shot by police in his apartment, the newspaper said.

Many of the rioters may have had other motives for their actions, Lindgren said.

“We’ve arrested people from all kinds of groups ranging from criminals to pals just hanging out together,” he said. “Since Wednesday the trend has, however, been that of a slow down so hopefully we will soon go back to a normal state.”

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