Chaos erupts at African cultural event in Stockholm (VIDEO)
More than 50 people have been injured in a bout of violence at an Eritrean festival in Stockholm, after a large crowd of anti-government protesters stormed the event and triggered a riot, officials told AFP.
Police said their forces attended the Eritrea-Scandinavia festival on Thursday following reports of clashes, arson and property destruction, dubbing the incident a “violent riot.” According to local media, at least nine police buses were deployed at the scene alongside fire engines and ambulances.
Up to 1,000 people attending a counter-protest near the pro-Eritrean-government festival managed to push through police barricades and proceeded to trash the event site, setting fire to tents and fighting with festival-goers, according to Expressen. The outlet noted that some even wielded tent stakes against officers.
Footage purporting to depict the clashes has circulated online, with a sizable group of protesters seen breaching a police line before streaming into the festival. Another clip appeared to show the burning remains of tents following an arson attack.
52 people were wounded today in Stockholm after a crowd of more than 1000 people stormed an Eritrean festival.People attending the festival were beaten with bats and festival facilities were burned down.4 policemen were wounded 🇪🇷🇸🇪 pic.twitter.com/azi95RZGXP— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 3, 2023
Police said they had detained “around a hundred people” during the disturbance, adding that they remained at the scene to continue “efforts to disrupt criminal acts and restore order.” Fifty-two people required some form of medical attention, eight of which suffered “serious injuries,” while a total of 15 were brought to nearby hospitals.
Officers also temporarily closed a section of the E18 highway after it was blocked by people fleeing the uproar, shutting down traffic in both directions.
Held annually near the Swedish capital since the 1990s, the cultural event typically features lectures, debates, live music, food and a fairground. The festival has stoked controversy in the past, with critics accusing organizers of financial ties with the Eritrean government. Previous events have also come under fire by supporters of Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist and playwright who has been imprisoned without trial in the East African state since 2001.