Arab school in Sweden torched in 'planned attack'
The incident took place at the private Al Salamah School in the Jagersro neighborhood of Malmo at about 11pm local time.
Police officers were patrolling the area when they heard an explosion near the school. When the officers arrived at the scene, they saw the building on fire.
Two officers then noticed a suspicious car trying to leave the scene of the incident. One of the officers stepped out of the police vehicle and reportedly attempted to stop the car by firing shots in its direction.
The driver of the car then allegedly tried to run the officer down, before driving off. The officer escaped without injury.
“Several patrols are now searching for the perpetrators who are still at large,” said Mia Sandgren, Skane county police spokesperson.
She added that the suspects may be charged with the attempted murder of the officer and attempted arson of the school.
Paul Bjurehag, from the local emergency services, said firefighters made efforts to save part of the building, “but it was not easy.”
“There is a big fire in the Arab school. The building is completely in flames,” he had told local media.
The emergency crew then managed to contain the blaze, but a large portion of the building was completely ruined by fire.
No injuries have been reported, but it is not yet clear if school staff or students were present at the time of the incident.
“There was a fire which started in the kitchen ... At this moment, we need to stick together and support each other,” the school said on its website.
Al Salamah School, established in 1996, hosts about 300 students.
Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden, has a relatively young population, with almost half under the age of 35, according to local authorities.
In July the city was rocked by multiple blasts, shootings and arson attacks, prompting police to express alarm over the increasing violence.
According to statistics provided by local authorities, as of 2015, 31 percent of the city’s 300,000 population were born abroad and nearly 43 percent of the residents have a foreign background.
Immigrants mainly come from countries which have been recently plagued by conflict – migrant groups from Iraq, Syria, the former Yugoslavia and Somalia are among them. The data also say that about 20 percent of Malmo’s population are Muslim – one of the most significant percentages in Scandinavian cities.