Swedish leader voices anger after dozens of cars are burned
By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Masked youths torched dozens of cars overnight in Sweden and threw rocks at police, prompting an angry response from the prime minister, who denounced an “extremely organized” night of vandalism.
Police spokesman Hans Lippens said Tuesday that initial reports indicate that about 80 cars were set ablaze overnight, chiefly in Sweden’s second largest city, Goteborg, and nearby Trollhattan, an industrial city.
Fires were also reported on a smaller scale in Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city.
In Trollhattan, northeast of Goteborg, where at least six cars were burned, rocks were also thrown at police and roads were blocked. Goteborg is 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of Stockholm.
Lippens said that because the fires started within a short period of time, “we cannot exclude that there is a connection between the blazes.”
Photos posted by Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet showed black-clad men torching cars on a parking lot near Goteborg.
Sweden’s news agency TT said witnesses had seen “masked youngsters” running away. No arrests have been made.
Lippens said several youths that police met at the scene have been identified.
“We have spoken with them but we cannot conclude they started the fires. We also have spoken with their parents,” he told local media. He was not available for further comments.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven lashed out at the perpetrators, asking them: “What the heck are you doing?”
In an interview on Swedish radio, he said he was “really getting mad” and that “society must react in a tough manner.” He said the fires seemed to be “extremely organized.”
No injuries have been reported. However, the fires occupy police and rescue officials and frighten residents.
“You damage residential areas and ruin it for your neighbors,” Lofven said.
“I am speechless. This so terrible, it’s destructive and it’s pure evil,” Jonas Ransgaard, a member of the Goteborg City council, told local daily Goteborgs-Posten.