Violent start to Sweden’s new year

Sweden saw in 2007 on Sunday night with the traditional organised and impromptu fireworks displays - but they were accompanied by an unusually high number of crimes including assault, rape and arson, reported police around the country.

Several people were seriously injured after knife attacks.

“There have been a lot of assaults, many serious. It’s striking how many men have attacked women they’re in relationships with,” said Mikael Sjöstedt, spokesman at Västra Götaland police.

Further north, in Dalarna, there were more disturbances on New Year’s Eve than usual. In Säter district one person was in a critical condition in hospital overnight after being assaulted.

In central Lund a 27 year old man was stabbed in the lower back just before 3am. He was taken to hospital but his injuries were not life-threatening. Three people were arrested on suspicion of the attack.

Skåne police nevertheless described the New Year celebrations as relatively calm, despite numerous cases of assault and many injuries from fireworks.

“Our resources have coped,” said police officer Erik Jeppsson.

Uppsala police arrested a 35 year old man who threatened security guards at a restaurant in the city with a loaded gun.

Earlier, around midnight, police were forced to deal with a “chaotic release attempt” when several people tried to get officers to free a man who had been arrested at Bålsta station. A number of other police units were called to the scene before the situation was brought under control.

Between midnight and Monday morning Stockholm police had registered a total of more than 900 incidents, almost as many as occur in a full 24 hour period.

At least three of those were particularly nasty: a woman was raped in a car in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan, in Bandhagen a man and a woman were seriously assaulted by three women, and two men were stabbed in a major brawl in Hägersten in the south of the city.

One of them died on New Year’s Day.

“Six people have been arrested and two have been taken for questioning,” said Jonas Hilding at south Stockholm police.

“There’s been an unbelievable amount for us to do, a massive amount of assaults,” said a stressed Henrik Billstam at Stockholm police on New Year’s Day morning.

Immediately after midnight there was a rush of incidents relating to fireworks landing on balconies and going off in apartments.

In Skåne a young woman was injured by a rocket in Österlöv, northwest of Kristianstad. She was taken to the eye clinic at Lund University hospital for treatment.