Some Swedish youth riot over police shooting death

Police officers stand guard in a street during a riot in Stockholm, Sweden, Monday, May 20, 2013.
AP Photo

STOCKHOLM Gangs of youth angered by the police shooting death of an elderly man hurled rocks at police and set cars and buildings on fire in a Stockholm suburb early Monday, forcing the evacuation of an apartment block.

Around 50 youths were involved in the riots in the suburb of Husby, west of Stockholm, police spokesman Lars Bystrom said.

The youths set light to a parking garage, compelling police to evacuate residents from an adjacent apartment block, Bystrom said. Residents were allowed to return home after a couple of hours.

Husby is one of several neighborhoods of apartment blocks in western Stockholm occupied primarily by immigrants.

Bystrom said police responded to calls of burning cars and were met by masked youths hurling rocks at them. Three officers were injured and several cars and buildings were damaged.

However, residents said they had gathered to protest against the shooting death and that police responded with sending in SWAT teams that cordoned off the area.

"I understand that people react like this," said Rami Al-Khamisi from the organization Megafonen, which represents citizens in Stockholm's suburbs.

The organization said police had used excessive violence against the youth and also attacked passers-by with batons and dogs.

Police have launched an internal probe to investigate the shooting death on May 13 of a 69-year-old man in Husby. They say they shot the man in self-defense because he had attacked police with a knife when they broke down the door to an apartment, where he had locked himself up with a woman.

However, Megafonen has criticized police for initially releasing a faulty report saying the man was taken to hospital. They said residents had seen his dead body being transported from the scene hours after the shooting in a hearse, which police later admitted was correct.