Firemen in the heavily-migrant populated Uppsala suburb of Gottsunda were forced to let fires rages for hours while they waited for police back up due to the danger of being attacked by local residents.
Emergency services were first alerted to the fires at 6:39 pm on Tuesday but did not arrive on the scene until 9:34 pm, almost three hours later, due to the danger of being attacked by locals in the area. Lisa Sannervik of the Uppsala police confirmed that they suspected firemen would have likely been targeted because of previous police operations in the area earlier this week Aftonbladet reports.
In total several cars and a garage containing 50 or so cars were set on fire in the area. A witness to the fires expressed disbelief in the emergency service’s response time saying, “we stood 45 minutes, an hour. Nobody came.”
“There was smoke over the entire area,” the witness added.
Police spokeswoman Sannervik justified the delay saying, “it’s out of safety. We have on several occasions been attacked by stone-throwing in the area.”
“Of course, it is regrettable for residents in the area. But we need to put security for our staff as first priority,” Sannervik added. Only when reinforcements arrived with riot gear and weapons did the police give the all-clear for the firemen to proceed to the area.
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Earlier this week Sannervik said that police had arrested several people in the area on drug offences in multiple operations designed to target organised crime. She theorized that the fires could have been revenge for the operations.
Safety has been a growing concern for emergency services workers operating in heavily migrant populated Swedish neighbourhoods commonly referred to as no-go zones.
Earlier this year in Malmö firemen were attacked when local “youths” threw glass bottles at them, forcing the firemen to abandon a blaze which burned a building to the ground as a result.
Ambulance workers have also been subjected to attacks forcing the leader of a Swedish Ambulance Driver’s Union to request that paramedics working in no-go areas be given military-grade body armour and helmets.