Stockholm riots: Clashes grip suburbs as violence flares for fifth night

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Groups from local mosques have been patrolling the streets of Husby, pleading with youths for calm

Stockholm

Stockholm saw a fifth night of rioting as two schools and 15 vehicles were torched across several suburban districts.

Fire fighters were called to a school in Tensta, north Stockholm and a Montessori school in the Kista suburb which were set ablaze by rioting youths. Emergency services were also called to Rinkeby, northern Stockholm to extinguish six vehicles that were set alight whilst parked next to each other.

Father of two Aleks Sakala, whose children attend the Montessori school, said setting schools on fire made him “extra angry.” Speaking to Swedish newspaper the Expressen, Mr Sakala said: "This is as far from good sense as you can get. This is madness. Where will my kids go to school tomorrow? They probably won't be able to finish out the term."

Police have now detained 13 people in connection with the riots.

Police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said the 13 are aged between 18 and 25 and have been detained in connection with the disturbances which included an unsuccessful attempt to damage a police station. Eight of those are believed to have been arrested in Älvsjö, while four arrests were made in Norsborg.

However, Lindgren also noted that the overnight violence was less intense than previous nights and that the participants seemed less aggressive.

Speaking to the Independent today, Lindgren said: “We are preparing to have more constables out on the streets for some time coming, at least for the next few weeks. Rioters were less aggressive last night, that was the opinion of officers – they seemed a bit calmer and less aggressive. I think, and I hope that we are turning back to a better way in Stockholm city.

Residents are both saddened and angered by the events, he said, although there was not a "community army" out on the streets as of yet.

On Thursday evening the brother-in-law of a 69-year-old man who was shot by police in his apartment twelve days ago in an incident said to be the initial cause of the unrest, spoke out for the first time, asking people to “stop burning cars”.

“I would say to anyone who burns cars that it is completely the wrong way to react. From violence, we only get more violent. It is not the solution. We have to discuss with the police and get along,” Risto Kajanto told Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper.

Mr Kajanto said his brother-in-law, whose name has still not been made public, had been eating in a restaurant, and when he returned home, he was confronted by a gang of youths, who he threatened with a knife.

When the police knocked on his door, he mistook them for the youths and didn't respond. Believing the woman in the apartment - his wife - to be in danger, the police, his brother-in-law maintains, shot him.

He had emigrated to Sweden from Portugal more than 30 years ago, and had been married to his Finnish wife for almost all of that time. She is now said to be in a state of shock. Swedish police have not commented on Mr Kajanto's version of events, but they were prepared for the continuing violence.

It is the worst civil unrest in Sweden in modern times. More than three hundred cars have been set on fire. At one point a police station in the north west was set on fire, but was quickly contained.

It is understood that the majority of those arrested by police have not been from the areas in which they were arrested, adding credence to the growing belief on the streets that the rioters are the same people, travelling from place to place, intent on causing trouble.

One 18-year-old who was arrested on the first night of unrest on Sunday appeared in court today, looking visibly shaken after three days in custody, and told the court: “I want to go home and study, I have a test tomorrow.”

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on Wednesday that all people must take responsibility for restoring calm in Stockholm.

“It's important to remember that burning your neighbour's car is not an example of freedom of speech, It’s hooliganism,” he said.

Sweden has seen mass immigration in the last century, particularly since the Second World War. Its economy emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis, but in the past twenty years it has had the fastest growing rate of inequality of any OECD country.

Local media have reported that police officers have used racist slurs, like “monkey” and “pig” while policing the unrest. Swedish police say they are investigating the matter. “If anybody would be insulted or be called racist words they should make a formal report,” said a police spokesman. “We haven't received any formal reports of this nature.”

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