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'Hooligans' target young migrants in Stockholm

Swedish media say threats directed at migrant youth by masked, black-clad men near Stockholm's central train station have resulted in several arrests. Police say one suspect punched an officer in the face.

The daily newspaper "Aftonbladet" reported Saturday that dozens of suspected "hooligans" linked to local soccer teams tried to accost refugees on Friday night after threatening to "punish" North African "street children."

Police confirmed that anti-migrant leaflets - handed out in Stockholm's central Norrmalmstorg square - matched a social media post claiming that "Swedish streets are no longer safe for ordinary Swedes."

The leaflet and post claimed it was up Swedes to "fix the problem."

Police intervene

Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said the group of men scuffled with reinforced police units. One man was briefly arrested after punching a plainclothes officer in the face. Another man was carrying a knuckle-duster.

Police had no reports that any migrant had actually been assaulted, he added.

Last Monday, a 22-year-old female caretaker at a shelter for teenage asylum seekers south of Goteborg was

fatally stabbed

by a 15-year-old boy. Two other teenagers restrained the attacker until police arrived.

Reversal at main destination

Sweden - a country of almost 10 million - has, along with Germany and Austria, been among the main destinations in Europe for people fleeing conflict in countries such as Syria and Iraq.

Sweden received a record 163,000 arrivals last year, in line with its previous open-door immigration policy.

A sharp drop in arrivals has occurred since temporary border controls, including photo identification checks, were

introduced early this month.

A survey last week showed Sweden's governing center-left Social Democrats losing voter support, mainly because of the perception that authorities had been overwhelmed.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's government recently said it

intended to step up deportations

of persons whose applications for asylum had been rejected.

He also promised more resources for police to deal with an increased workload.

ipj/gsw (dpa, Reuters, epd, AFP)

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