Sweden's capital hit by worst riots in years

Last updated 08:33 23/05/2013
Sweden riots

VIOLENCE: Firefighters extinguish a burning car, following riots in the Stockholm suburb of Kista.

Swedish capital hit by riots

Relevant offers

Europe

Hero British cop Danny Pattison stops runaway car UK secondary school drops traditional homework - teachers use time to prepare lessons Malaysia Airlines MH17 shot down from pro-Russian rebel controlled territory, investigation finds Russian hackers harassed journalists who were investigating MH17 crash Russia claims rebel rocket did not down Malaysia Airlines MH17 Norway rejects Snowden extradition lawsuit Merlin fined nearly $9 million over rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers MH17: Long road to justice for families of victims Air France workers on trial over ripping off bosses' shirts The tangled escapades of 'Germany's James Bond,' now on trial for tax evasion

Hundreds of youths have set fire to cars and attacked police and rescue services in poor immigrant suburbs in three nights of rioting in Sweden's capital Stockholm.

On Tuesday night, a police station in the Jakobsberg area in the northwest of the city was attacked, two schools were damaged and an arts and crafts centre was set ablaze, despite a call for calm from Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The riots in one of Europe's richest capitals have shocked a country that prides itself on a reputation for social justice, and fuelled a debate about how Sweden is coping with both youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.

"We've had around 30 cars set on fire last night, fires that we connect to youth gangs and criminals," Kjell Lindgren, spokesman for Stockholm police, said.

He said eight people had been arrested, but there were no reports of injuries.

The riots appear to have been sparked by the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby this month, which prompted accusations of police brutality.

"Everyone must pitch in to restore calm - parents, adults," Reinfeldt told reporters.

After decades of practising the "Swedish model" of generous welfare benefits, Sweden 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.

The left-leaning tabloid Aftonbladet said the riots represented a "gigantic failure" of government policies, which had underpinned the rise of ghettos in the suburbs.

"We have failed to give many of the people in the suburbs a hope for the future," Anna-Margrethe Livh of the opposition Left Party wrote in the daily Svenska Dagbladet.

An 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.

Some 15 percent of the population is foreign-born, the highest proportion in the Nordic region. Unemployment among those born outside Sweden stands at 16 percent, compared with 6 percent 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 UN figures.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content