An Eritrea-themed cultural festival in a Stockholm suburb took a violent turn on Thursday when about a thousand anti-Eritrean government protesters stormed the event, leaving at least 52 people injured, Swedish media reported.
The protesters set booths and vehicles ablaze, sending smoke billowing into the sky. Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that up to a thousand protesters marched towards the festival grounds, pushing past police cordons and using sticks and rocks as weapons.
Swedish police spokesperson Daniel Wikdahl said "between 100 and 200 people have been detained." A significant police presence is still at the scene and investigations are underway, he said.
Sweden is home to tens of thousands of people with Eritrean roots. The festival devoted to the cultural heritage of Eritrea is an annual event that has been held since the 1990s but has been criticized for allegedly serving as a promotional tool and source of money for the African nation´s government, according to Swedish media.
"This is not a festival, they are teaching their children hate speech," protester Michael Kobrab told Swedish broadcaster TV4.
Human rights groups describe Eritrea as one of the world´s most repressive countries. Since winning independence from Ethiopia three decades ago, the small Horn of Africa nation has been led by President Isaias Afwerki, who has never held an election.