Seven arrested over Stockholm’s Husby riots

Seven people were arrested on Tuesday following the Husby riots in northern Stockholm, with Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt warning that the unrest may continue.

Seven arrested over Stockholm's Husby riots

Four of the suspected rioters arrested were detained, two were later released and a third person turned out to be under 15, the age of criminal responsibility in Sweden, according to local police chief Jörgen Karlsson.

The men are between the age of 15 and 19, and are suspected of violent rioting and assaulting a public official.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt commented on the matter in a press conference at the Riksdag on Tuesday afternoon.

IN PICTURES: See the damage from the Husby fires

“We’ve had two nights with great unrest, damage, and an intimidating atmosphere in Husby and there is a risk it will continue,” he said.

“Now everyone, including parents and adults, needs to help restore the calm. Husby residents must get their neighbourhood back,” he added.

“We have groups of young men who think that that they can and should change society with violence. Let’s be clear: This is not OK. We cannot be ruled by violence.”

RELATED STORY: Riot police ‘resorted to racial slurs’ in Husby

Between 50 and 100 people took part in the rioting on Tuesday, and up to 300 people were estimated to have been on the streets, which was “probably more than on Sunday”, police chief Karlsson said.

“We know that some of those who participated came from other parts of the country,” he added.

Witnesses estimated that around 100 vehicles were torched during Sunday’s rioting, together with a garage that left an apartment block evacuated for most of the night. Rioters threw stones at the police officers on hand, and even at fire-fighters attempting to quell the blazes. Several properties and stores in the area had their windows smashed.

RELATED STORY: ‘Husby is usually a very peaceful place’

“Seven police officers suffered minor injuries in connection with the rock throwing,” Karlsson explained.

“There was a smaller riot south of the city, but whether there is any connection to what happened here is hard to say,” he said.

Community-based organizations said the riots stem from frustration over the fatal police shooting of a 69-year-old man in Husby last Monday.

“You have to see what happened from a wider point of view. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, and it’s not the last. This is the kind of reaction when there isn’t equality between people, which is the case in Sweden,” Rami al-Khamisi, a law student and founder of local youth organization Megafonen, told The Local.

IN PICTURES: Scenes from the second night of riots in Husby

Sweden’s Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said residents were reacting to the turmoil.

“Those living there are of course worried and angry and upset because their things have been destroyed,” she told TT.

“But I don’t want to review the actions without having all the facts on the table. I’ve talked to the county police this morning, and it’s a truly tough job the police are doing here. When they are helping the fire-fighters in the area, they are victims of stone throwing. It’s youths from Husby and a great deal of others who have gone there,” she said.

There were also problems on Monday night in other immigrant-heavy areas of Stockholm, including Tensta, Kista, Rinkeby, and Fittja, where people were throwing stones. In Fittja, around 30 young people threw rocks at the subway trains, the emergency services, and the police at the local shopping centre, according to the local police’s website. Cars were also burnt. No one has been arrested.

Apartment blocks in Husby, a product of Sweden’s controversial “million homes programme”, were built in the early seventies and are home to around 12,000 people, of which 80 percent come from immigrant backgrounds.

Authorities launched an ambitious effort to regenerate the low-income suburbs of northern Stockholm in 2007, but the area’s youth unemployment rate remains one of the highest in Sweden.

TT/AFP/The Local/og

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Stockholm firefighters tackle bus depot blaze

Emergency services in Stockholm were continuing on Tuesday morning to tackle a fire that started in a bus depot almost 24 hours earlier.

Stockholm firefighters tackle bus depot blaze
File photo of a fire engine in Stockholm: Pontus Lundahl / TT

The fire, which began at around 10.30am on Monday, is likely to cause problems with traffic diversions and irregular public transport throughout Tuesday, according to SL, the company which runs the capital city's public transport.

“It's still burning and we don't know yet how long we will need to be there. Probably the whole day,” said Hans Eriksson from the Stockholm fire service. “Now we are concentrating on protecting the other surrounding buildings.”

The fire began in connection with work on the roof of the building, which contains a large bus depot and the connected offices.

Eriksson said: “It's an old building with a roof built in a complicated way and construction work, so we haven't wanted to sent people up to the roof and fight the fire from within. That's another reason it's taken longer.”

No buses are reported damaged as most of the fleet were on Stockholm's roads at the time of the fire.

Police have opened an investigation into carelessness endangering of the public.