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Home NATIONALLocal-refugee skirmishes leave Frossa tense
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Thu, 25 Aug, 2016 01:01:33 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Aug 25

The town of Forssa, in southwestern Finland, has become a showcase of increasing tension between the local Finns and asylum seekers.

A mass fight erupted outside a reception centre in the town leading to casualties on Tuesday.

Police said dozens of people were involved and most of the locals ran away when the police showed up.

There were no fire arms, but baseball bats and iron bars were used, the police said. Two locals were detained later.

Police Inspector Tomi Repo said the scene resembled "village fights" seen centuries ago in rural societies.

"In such a fight, all sides feel provocated and violence does not come from one side only," Repo told the local newspaper Forssan Lehti.

Repo reminded that violence against another person is always prohibited in Finland.

The events on Tuesday had been preceded by milder confrontations in shops and malls.

Tero Seppanen, assistant chief of the police of the Hame District told Forssan Lehti that fights between locals and asylum seekers have increased in the whole area towards the end of the summer.

Seppanen believed the reason to be the worsened atmosphere in the reception centres. The situation has been accentuated by the lengthy waiting time and an increase in the number of rejections of applications.

Another violent incident happened in a centre in Kotka, southeastern Finland earlier this month. A man of Iraqi background stabbed two fellow inmates and held a knife on the neck of a third, but no fatalities were reported. No local citizens were involved in the incident.

Finland has tightened the criteria of issuing residence permits for asylum seekers. The ratio of rejection has been about 77 percent since June, but the number used to be less than one third in the beginning of this year.

It is reported that the mood may become bitter when several negative decisions reach a centre at the same time.

Sami Sulkko, the Forssa City Director dismissed the view that the town is racist. He claimed the situation rather reflects the overall tension in Finland.

The city has now assigned a multi-discipline task force to analyse and improve the situation.

Forssa was in spotlight in the spring of 2015 when the local City Board first voted against allowing a reception center in the town. It later changed its mind and a center opened.

Regulations were even changed later and local councils could no longer block the establishment of refugee centres.

Forssa has less than 20,000 inhabitants. The town used to be a textile industry center, but is known today mainly for the food industries.

A group calling itself "Finland First" is planning a demonstration in Forssa on Thursday. It demands that asylum seekers from "safe countries" be transferred to guarded camps in Northern Finland close to the land border with Sweden.

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