Europe

Poles held over Sweden asylum centre attack plot

  • 9 February 2016
  • From the section Europe
Police detain suspects in Stockholm after masked men clashes with officers Image copyright TV4
Image caption Masked men attacked foreigners at Stockholm central station last month as anti-immigrant tensions increased

Fourteen Polish far-right activists have been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of planning to attack asylum seekers with axes, iron pipes and knives, police say.

They were detained on Monday after police said they received a tip-off.

The group was thought to have targeted an asylum centre in Nynashamn, about 60km (37 miles) south of Stockholm.

Some 163,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest number in Europe by population size.

Sweden opened its doors to Syrian refugees in 2013, but decided last November to tighten its borders because it said the numbers of migrants and refugees arriving was "unsustainable".

'Far-right scene'

The 14 Poles were detained on Monday evening in raids on cars in the Nynashamn area, police said, a short distance from an asylum centre.

Aged between 20 and 35, some live in Sweden permanently while others are only visiting the country, according to Swedish reports.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption There have been demonstrations in Stockholm this year against migration to the country

"They are Polish citizens, and seem to be part of the far-right scene. Three of them were involved in a demonstration against refugees two weeks ago and were arrested for assaulting someone," southern Stockholm police spokesman Lars Alvarsjo told Radio Sweden.

The suspects were thought to have discussed the attack on Facebook.

Swedish Television reported that they may have planned the attack in retaliation for a previous dispute on a commuter train.

Heightened tension

Last month up to 100 masked men, dressed in black, gathered in central Stockholm to attack people from immigrant backgrounds.

Witnesses said the men had physically assaulted people they believed were foreigners amid heightened tension in Sweden over the migrant crisis.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sweden took in 163,000 asylum seekers last year but has tightened border controls to bring the numbers down

There were scuffles between pro- and anti-migrant demonstrators.

Tensions have increased after a 22-year-old woman working at a centre for young asylum seekers was stabbed to death at the end of January in Molndal, near Gothenburg. A 15-year-old asylum seeker was arrested.

Along with Germany, Sweden has been a prime destination for refugees and migrants entering the EU illegally.

More than one million refugees and migrants travelled to Europe last year, most fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The numbers arriving in Sweden have fallen significantly since it imposed tighter border controls at the start of the year.

Last month Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said the country would prepare to deport up to 80,000 migrants whose asylum applications were rejected.

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