poland anti-immigration refugee asylum
Far-right Poles are thought to have been planning an attack on a refugee centre in SwedenREUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Police in Sweden say they have disrupted a suspected attack on a refugee centre by 14 far-right Poles armed with axes, knives and pipes. The suspects, aged between 20 and 35, were stopped in cars close to a refugee centre in the town of Nynashamn, 35 miles (60 km) from Stockholm after police received a tip-off.

Most are thought to be Polish nationals, many of whom live in Sweden. According to local reports, the men planned the attack on Facebook, following an alleged altercation on board a commuter train. The men are said to have denied planning any attack.

"They are Polish citizens, and seem to be part of the far-right scene," Stockholm police spokesman Lars Alvarsjo told Radio Sweden. "Three of them were involved in a demonstration against refugees two weeks ago and were arrested for assaulting someone." Another police spokesman, Varg Gyllander added: "I have heard that they had links to far-right groups as well, but according to the prosecutor we can't confirm that as of today."

Anti-immigrant feeling seems to be on the rise in Sweden, which has taken in a greater proportion of refugees relative to its population than any other European country. This included 163,000 arrivals last year in a country with a total population of less than 10 million people.

The fatal stabbing of 22-year-old refugee worker Alexandra Mezher – herself the child of Lebanese immigrants – has added to the anger felt by some Swedes. In January, gangs of masked men attacked people they suspected of being migrants around Stockholm.

Some 80,000 migrants whose applications for asylum were rejected are to be deported over the next few years, according to the Swedish government. The EU has broadly welcomed the move, but Judith Sunderland, an associate director at Human Rights Watch told al Jazeera: "What we're seeing now is a total panic on the part of EU leaders. We're seeing alarmist and very negative pronouncements on a daily basis."