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Stockholm burns as rioters battle police after three days of violence in immigrant 'ghetto'
- Two schools and a cultural centre were set on fire in Stockholm
- Gangs of up to 60 youths hurled rocks at police and firefighters
- Yesterday's violence is the worst the country has seen in years
- Provoked debate on youth unemployment and immigration in Sweden
By Becky Evans
PUBLISHED:06:08 EST, 22 May 2013| UPDATED:17:40 EST, 22 May 2013
Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.
In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.
It is Sweden's worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.
Dozens of cars were set alight in Stockholm's poor immigrant suburbs as rioting spread into a third night
The unrest is the worst disorder Sweden has seen in years and shocked the liberal-leaning country
A fireman extinguishes a burning car in Kista, one of dozens set alight in a number of immigrant suburbs
The disorder has intensified despite a call for calm from Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Last night, rioters attacked the police station in the Jakosberg area in the northwest of the city and set fire to 30 cars.
Groups of youths also smashed shop windows and burned down a 19th Century cultural centre.
Gangs of up to 60 set fire to a school and a nursery and hurled rocks at police and firefighters.
The unrest appears to have been sparked by the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby on Sunday, which prompted accusations of police brutality.
It has provoked fierce debate in the country, which prides itself on a reputation for social justice, on the government's economic policies.
As well as setting cars ablaze, rioters also attacked a police station and a school and nursery
The unrest appears to have been sparked after police shot and killed a man wielding a machete on Sunday
Smoke billows from a burning car. Rocks were hurled at firefighters as they tackled blazes around the city
The violence has sparked debate in the country on the effect of the government's social policies
Critics say immigrant ghettos have been created where unemployment is high and there are few opportunities for residents.
The left-leaning tabloid Aftonbladet said the riots represented a 'gigantic failure' of government policies, which had underpinned the rise of ghettos in the suburbs.
'We have failed to give many of the people in the suburbs a hope for the future,' Anna-Margrethe Livh of the opposition Left Party wrote in the daily Svenska Dagbladet.
An anti-immigrant party, the Sweden Democrats, has risen to third in polls ahead of a general election due next year, reflecting unease about immigrants among many voters.
Many believe the riots are a result of anger at high unemployment and fewer opportunities among immigrants
A number of cars in the Stockholm suburb of Husby, which has a high immigrant population
A boy walks to school past a burned out truck (right) and a couple assess the damage done to a van (left)
Eight people were arrested last night but police said they had no reports of injuries.
Kjell Lindgren, spokesman for Stockholm police, said today: 'We've had around 30 cars set on fire last night, fires that we connect to youth gangs and criminals.'
Prime Minister Reinfeldt told reporters yesterday: 'Everyone must pitch in restore calm - parents [and] adults.'
After decades of practising the 'Swedish model' of generous welfare benefits, the country has been reducing the role of the state since the 1990s, spurring the fastest growth in inequality of any advanced OECD economy.
The clean-up operation began on Wednesday as burned cars were towed away under police guard
Policemen secure an apartment building after youths rioted in Husby, northern Stockholm
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.
Some 15 per cent of the population is foreign-born, the highest proportion in the Nordic region.
Unemployment among those born outside Sweden stands at 16 per cent, compared with just six per cent for native Swedes, according to OECD data.
Among 44 industrialised countries, Sweden ranked fourth in the absolute number of asylum seekers, and second relative to its population, according to U.N. figures.
Suburbs such as Husby have been described as immigrant 'ghettos' with high unemployment
Stockholm, one of Europe's richest capitals, has the fastest inequality rate of any advanced OECD economy