Eyewitnesses notified police late Saturday night to say that three or four men with axes had smashed through the safety glass at the facility, which houses immigrants who are awaiting deportation.
“It was a very dramatic event and very unfortunate,” Tommy Harnesk of the Migration Board told the TT news agency.
According to Harnesk, witnesses heard several loud crashes in one of the rooms at the facility. When staff members ran to the scene, they realized that a breakout was underway and attempted to enter the room. When they finally managed to open the door, the saw several people jump out of a broken window.
The floor of the room was littered with glass shards and an axe was left lying on the ground outside.
Local police told Sveriges Television (SVT) that seven or eight people were involved in the breakout and that the three people who escaped were born in 1976, 1979, and 1983.
One of the escapees was Georgian, one Russian, while the nationality of the third was unknown, the police added.
Police have confiscated the axe and searched the scene, but no arrests have been made.
“The mood at the facility is one of concern in the wake of an event like this. Staff members have made sure that no one else can escape, but have also tried to calm down the other people housed in the facility so we can try to get things back to normal as quickly as possible,” said Harnesk.
A similar breakout took place at a facility in Skåne in southern Sweden last spring. And in November 2011, a Russian citizen escaped from the Gävle facility under dramatic circumstances during which several shots were fired and two employees were threatened.
However, such violent escapes are nevertheless rare.
“Security isn’t as strong as at a prison. Those who stay here aren’t criminals and haven’t committed any crimes, but are often staying here because they are going to be deported,” Harnesk.