23 May 2013

Swedish capital hit by worst riots in years

9:54 am on 23 May 2013

Hundreds of youths in Sweden have set fire to cars and attacked police and rescue services in poor immigrant suburbs in three nights of rioting in Stockholm.

A police station in the Jakobsberg area in the northwest of the city was attacked, two schools were damaged and an arts and crafts centre was set ablaze on Tuesday night in the country's worst disorder in years.

The riots appear to have been sparked by the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby this month, which prompted accusations of police brutality.

Sweden prides itself on a reputation for social justice, and the riots have fuelled a debate about how the country is coping with both youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants, Reuters reports.

After decades of generous welfare benefits, Sweden has been reducing the role of the state since the 1990s, spurring the fastest growth in inequality of any advanced OECD economy.

While average living standards are still among the highest in Europe, governments have failed to substantially reduce long-term youth unemployment and poverty, which have affected immigrant communities worst.