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Oslo police defend timing of opposing demos after weekend violence

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Oslo police defend timing of opposing demos after weekend violence
Kurdish demonstrators protest in the centre of Oslo on October 26th. Photo: AFP
13:50 CET+01:00
Oslo Police have said that they did not have the capacity on hand to deal with violence that broke out the centre of the city after demonstrations on Saturday.

Saturday night saw violent scenes in the Norwegian capital as Kurdish and pro-Turkish demonstrators clashed.

Demonstrations in front of the Turkish Embassy on Saturday afternoon later escalated into violent confrontations.

Oslo Police said that, while they were aware of the potential for a tense stand-off between opposing groups, a gap of two hours between planned demonstrations by each were considered to be sufficient, NRK reports.

The pro-Turkey demonstration was planned at the country’s embassy in the Frogner area of the city at 1pm, with the Kurdish protest two hours later.

Confrontations between the groups led to seven arrests and two received medical attention as a result of the demonstrations.

“Groups with opposing opinions often wish to demonstrate at the same time. We ended on an interval of two hours. We need strong grounds to set stricter rules than that, provided people are complying with Norwegian law. We are careful not to give any group preferential treatment,” Johan Frederiksen, leader of the FOT (Felles enhet for operativ tjeneste) police unit, told NRK.

Police were aware of the contention between the two groups prior to Saturday’s events, Frederiksen added.

“Most of the demonstrators were reasonable people, but some were operating in the grey zone,” he said to NRK.

Police not expecting demonstrators to march back towards the centre of the city together, he continued.

“That was improvised and took place several hours after the demonstrations should have ended. We did not have the capacity for that type of violence,” he said.

“We resolved the situation without anyone getting injured, and that is the most important thing. But we don’t want scenes like this in our city,” he added.

But an organizer from one of the demonstrating groups said he had warned police of the potential for violence breaking out.

“We were speaking to police since Monday and warned them about this. We said it would be a catastrophe,” Andam Aziz of the UngKurd group told NRK on Saturday evening.

Aziz said he had urged a three-hour gap between the demonstrations.

A branch of the Body Shop cosmetics chain, as well as cars and bus stations in the centre of Oslo sustained damage during Saturday’s events, NRK reports.

READ ALSO: Oslo nightlife: What is behind the recent spate of violence?

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