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Protesters against Eritrea's government set fire to booths at cultural festival in Sweden



Swedish media are reporting that an Eritrea-themed cultural festival in Stockholm took a turbulent turn when about a thousand anti-Eritrean government protesters stormed the event

STOCKHOLM -- An Eritrea -themed cultural festival in Sweden took a turbulent turn Thursday when about a thousand anti-Eritrean government protesters set fire to booths, tore down outsdoor shelters and threw rocks, according to Swedish media.

Swedish police said there was no immediate reports of any injuries. But Swedish newspapers said several people were hurt in connection with what the publications described as a riot.

The Expressen newspaper said at least nine police buses were at the site of the Festival Eritrea Scandinavia, an annual event that has been held since the 1990s at Järvafältet, a nature reserve in northern Stockholm.

The festival opened Thursday and was scheduled to run through Sunday.

Sweden is home to tens of thousands of people with Eritrean roots. The festival devoted to the cultural heritage of Eritrea has been criticized for allegedly serving as a promotional tool and source of money for for the African nation's government, according to Swedish media.

Human rights groups describe Eritrea as one of the world’s most repressive countries. The small Horn of Africa nation has been led since winning independence from Ethiopia three decades ago by President Isaias Afwerki, who has never held an election. Millions of people have fled conditions such as forced military conscription.