Close to 100 masked men allegedly attacked immigrants in central Stockholm and threatened to beat up refugee children. The group of men, dressed in black, marched through the city centre and handed out leaflets in which they threatened to punish "north African street children roaming around the city".
Fredrik Nylén, a spokesman for Stockholm police told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that several men had been arrested as they could have gathered "with the purpose of attacking refugee children". Swedish news website, The Local, reported that the group attacked immigrants on Friday (29 January), but there was no official confirmation of the same.
However, photographs and videos taken by witnesses depict a scene of violence at the Stockholm train station where a number of masked youth had gathered. A witness told the newspaper that he had seen a group of the men beating people who appeared to have a "foreign background".
"They came from Drottninggatan (Stockholm's main shopping street) and walked down toward the square and began to turn on immigrants," the witness said. "I saw maybe three people who got hit. I was quite scared so I left."
The police have linked the attack to Swedish football gangs the Firman Boys (AIK) and DFG (Djurgården). They believe the planned march was in reaction to the murder of a 22-year-old Swedish voluntary worker Alexandra Mezher, who was allegedly stabbed by a 15-year old immigrant last week.
"We refuse to accept the repeated assaults and harassment against Swedish women," the leaflet stated, referring to the rise in rapes and sexual attacks being reported and attributed to refugees. The xenophobic document encouraged others to "defend our public areas against the imported criminality".
"We refuse to accept the destruction of our once safe society. When our political leadership and police show more sympathy for murderers than for their victims, there are no longer any excuses to let it happen without protest," it read.
Following the attack, the Swedish Resistance Movement (SRM), a neo-Nazi group, issued a statement commending the attackers for cleaning up "criminal immigrants from North Africa that are housed in the area around the Central Station". The post also featured the text of the leaflet that had been distributed, indicating the attackers may be linked with the SRM.
Protests against the influx of immigrants into the country have led to a number of anti-refugee rallies and attacks in the recent past.