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CRIMINAL

New wave of arson attacks hits Ystad

A fire broke out on Tuesday morning in a house in Ystad in southern Sweden, the fifth of a spate of suspected arson attacks in the past week which have raised fears of a new "dusk and dawn" pyromaniac.

New wave of arson attacks hits Ystad
The remains of a tennis club near Ystad which burned down on July 17th.

The house was empty at the time as the family who owns the property were away on holiday.

Police said that the fire started in a conservatory, and then spread to the main house, which sustained extensive damage. The emergency services were called at 1.26am.

According to Skåne police, there is a suspicion of arson, the fifth case in the past two weeks in the Ystad region, made famous for its connection to Henning Mankell’s Wallander series.

The police however state that it is too early to determine if there is a connection between the incidents.

Early Monday morning there was a severe fire in a cottage outside Ystad. No one was in the house and no one was injured, but police have classified the fire as arson.

“We can assume with good reason that the fire has been set,” said Ewa-Gun Westford, information officer at Skåne police.

In connection with the attack, Westford insisted that all the fires are being investigated separately but that any similarities are under consideration.

“We do not know yet if there is a new arsonist, we do not want to blow it all up. People here have the ‘dawn arsonist’ in mind and they are scared,” she said, referring to a previous notorious case.

47-year-old Ulf Borgström was given the “dusk and dawn pyromaniac” (“gryningspyromanen”) epithet by the Swedish press after eluding police for a number of years.

He has been referred to as one of the most dangerous men in Sweden and was jailed for eight years by Ystad district court in 2011.

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CHRISTMAS

Sweden’s Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season

Sweden's straw yule goat Gävlebocken, whose biggest claim to fame is its tendency to get burned down every year, is all set for its annual return on Sunday.

Sweden's Gävle Christmas goat ready to return for festive season
The ill-fated 2016 Gävlebocken. Photo: Pernilla Wahlman/TT

Every year, the Christmas goat (Gävlebocken) in the Slottstorget square in Gävle, central Sweden, attracts a media storm with locals dreaming up new ways to protect the arson-prone 13-metre-high creation.

Despite their efforts, including in some years spraying the goat in anti-flammable liquid, the goat usually goes up in flames long before Swedes have opened their Christmas presents.

Last year, the goat surprisingly made it to Boxing Day intact, to the delight of organisers, who were reported to have put a “secret” plan into effect to protect it.

In 2016 it was less fortunate, going down in flames mere hours after its inauguration.

READ ALSO: 'Memorial' to be held for Sweden's giant yule goat

“Many people are invested” in the straw goat in Gävle, Maria Wallberg of the town’s municipality told TT.

The central Swedish town is naturally proud of its luckless Christmas decoration, despite the fact it has burned town 29 times during its 50-year history.

Thousands of people are expect to attend the unveiling of the goat on Sunday, with the ceremony to be presented by Swedish comedian Clara Henry.

“It means an incredible amount that the city has such a strong symbol which is known all over the world,” Wallberg said.

Security around the giant goat is expected to be high, both during its inauguration day and throughout December. Security guards and cameras will both be deployed to keep an eye on it behind its fencing, while a taxi rank has been moved to the square to increase the presence of people in the area.

“For security reasons, we can’t go into too much detail,” Wallberg said of any further precautions.

Historical precedent is against Gävlebocken. In its first year, 1966, it burned down on New Year’s Eve and it has only made it through the entire month on 15 occasions. It has been burned, stolen and vandalised. In 1976, someone drove a stock car into it.


Orörd = undamaged; uppeldad = burned down; annan skada = otherwise damaged; oklart öde = fate unknown. Graphic: TT

“An attack early in the season would mean cancellations at hotels and restaurants. So it is incredibly important for Gävle, Gävle’s businesses and for everyone who wants to visit the goat that it is still standing at New Year,” Wallberg said.

READ ALSO: Five weirdest attacks on Gävle's arson-prone Christmas goat

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