Over 250 Arrested in Copenhagen Following Squatter Evictions

More than 250 people were arrested Thursday at several demonstrations in Copenhagen, where protesters threw cobblestones, bottles and paint at police after an anti-terror squad evicted squatters from a building, police said.

Three people were treated for injuries, including a German who was hit on the head, according to a hospital spokeswoman. His condition was not serious. Two Danes were treated for minor injuries.

The highly publicized eviction in central Copenhagen has drawn ire from the squatters and other youth, who have viewed the former theater as free public housing for years.

Onlookers clashed with hundreds of police officers shortly after the 7 a.m. local time eviction when a helicopter hoisted anti-terror police onto the building's roof. Officers with anti-riot gear sealed off the surrounding streets as police brought out squatters.

Police spokesman Per Larsen said foreigners were probably among those arrested, but he had no details on nationalities. It was unclear how many people were inside the house when the eviction began.

During the afternoon and evening, about 1,000 demonstrators clashed with police on streets nearby, throwing rocks, beer bottles and paint at officers. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Activists stood ready on street corners to help any injured.

Demonstrators dug up cobblestones from the streets, throwing them at police, and erected barricades with garbage containers in several places in downtown Copenhagen. They lit bonfires and overturned several cars.

Shops and banks near the evicted house boarded their windows and closed early.

Larsen said police officers from across the country were on their way to Copenhagen to help in the coming days, when more demonstrations were expected. Police also monitored border crossings with Sweden and Germany because Danish squatters have called for foreign squatters to help.

In the southwestern Swedish city of Malmo, three men were arrested carrying flammable material and explosives, suspected of heading to Copenhagen to join the protests, police spokeswoman Merima Lulic said.

Police in Sweden's capital Stockholm said they were also bracing for a demonstration in a downtown park.

The eviction had been planned since last year, when courts ordered the squatters to leave the house and hand it over to a Christian congregation that bought it six years ago. The squatters refused, saying the city had no right to sell the four-story building while it was still in use.

They have demanded another building as replacement, and a foundation backing the squatters has offered to pay 12 million kroner (US$2.1 million) for another facility.

In December, a rally of some 1,000 people protesting the eviction turned violent, and police detained some 300 people.