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Arson suspected at Sweden mosque for second time

Police investigating fire at Muslim place of worship as Nordic country grapples with extremism

Police officers investigate a suspected arson attack after a fire in a mosque in the southern Swedish town of Eslov on December 29, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP / TT NEWSAGENCY )
Police officers investigate a suspected arson attack after a fire in a mosque in the southern Swedish town of Eslov on December 29, 2014. (Photo credit: AFP / TT NEWSAGENCY )

STOCKHOLM — A fire broke out at a mosque in Sweden early on Monday in what appeared to be the second arson attack in less than a week on a place of Muslim worship, officials said.

No one was reported hurt in the blaze, which started around 3 a.m. at a mosque in the southern town of Eslov, police said in a statement.

The fire was quickly put out and caused only minor damage, it said.

While police said the cause was under investigation, a fire department spokesman said it appeared to be an act of arson.

“There is no possible natural explanation for this type of fire to break out” by itself, Gustaf Sandell told public radio.

The blaze comes days after an arsonist set fire to a mosque in central Sweden on Christmas Day, injuring five people.

Sweden, known for tolerance and refugee-friendly policies, saw an extreme right party, the Sweden Democrats, become the third-largest force in parliament in legislative elections in September.

In early December, the party brought down the government after less than three months by refusing to back its budget proposal in parliament.

On Saturday the government announced it had reached a deal with the opposition that will enable it to remain in power and to avert the Nordic country’s first snap elections in more than half a century, but the far right has threatened to hold a no-confidence vote.

In January, unknown perpetrators daubed black swastikas on the front door of a Stockholm mosque and in December last year neo-Nazis attacked a peaceful anti-racist protest in a Stockholm suburb, causing three people to be hospitalized.

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