Cyprus police make more arrests as racism-fuelled violence spreads

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Police in Cyprus have made 20 arrests after a spate of racism-fuelled violence against migrants which erupted in the west of the island last week and spread to its southern city of Limassol in a weekend rampage.

Storefronts belonging to migrants in the island's second city were smashed and Asian delivery drivers assaulted in a string of violent incidents which started on Friday night and continued until the early hours of Sunday.

Cyprus has seen an upsurge in anti-migrant sentiment in recent years, as well as a spike in antisocial behaviour which was formerly restricted to football hooliganism and drunken tourists.

Last week Syrians living in Chlorakas, a village in western Cyprus, were targeted by hooded attackers in sporadic incidents over two days, leading to 22 arrests.

Undeterred, about 500 people moved to Limassol on Friday going on a rampage which targeted foreign-owned businesses and people who did not look Greek Cypriot. Overnight Saturday to Sunday, three people from southeast Asia were attacked and robbed, state media said.

The latest disturbances have been fuelled by what advocacy groups say is a fumbled response by state authorities to a surge in irregular migration to the eastern Mediterranean island and a tolerance of xenophobic rhetoric and behaviour.
 

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