A man has been arrested in the aftermath of a violent altercation between locals and foreigners in Emba, a quiet town in western Cyprus where residents have been up in arms over recent arrivals of Syrian and African refugees.
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Police said a 23-year-old male was arrested Friday night on assault-related charges, following a complaint filed by two individuals in Emba who said they were attacked by the suspect and eight other males.
Police said officers were patrolling the area after word got out that more youths residing in Emba were reportedly seeking foreign residents out and threatening with retaliation
According to an official police report, the complainant alleged the perpetrators started throwing rocks at an establishment without any provocation.
Moments earlier according to media reports, the suspect described as a Syrian refugee had been told by a local male to park his vehicle away from the front of the resident’s house, which was situated along a main road, with the driver refusing and responding with gestures.
Moments later the Syrian suspect and his supporters engaged in a street fight, according to local media, in which local youths also took part with the confrontation taking place right in the center of Emba, in front of coffee shops and other establishments including a local cub association.
Police said officers were patrolling the area after word got out that more youths residing in Emba were reportedly seeking foreign residents out and threatening with retaliation.
Law enforcement officers patrolled the streets all night to deter further violence, while the owner of the vehicle in question was arrested on assault-related charges, including issuing a threat and common assault.
Last month Emba community leader Antonis Nikiforou, who accused a property owner of renting out foreclosed homes to refugees, described the situation as “dramatic” and said there were 8 or 10 people in each flat instead of two.
“The owner was a developer and sold a few apartments in our area. Those buyers disappeared due to the economic crisis and now he is breaking locks, fixing them up, and renting them out,” Nikiforou said.
Local media said the owner was the same person who owned property in Chloraka, another community in the area where local residents and officials opposed what they described as ghettoization of the town. Similar incidents of violence have also taken place.
An emergency law, which went into effect in December 2020, banned asylum seekers from residing within specific zones including the community of Chloraka, where many refugees from Syria had been known to seek affordable residence.
But according to Chloraka officials, the apartment complex that housed hundreds of refugees had been ordered to shut down by an executive order issued by the Paphos district officer, citing zoning and hygiene violations due to poor quality water.
The property owner has been rejecting claims by authorities and has called on state and local officials to list any terms and conditions to resolve the water problem once and for all.
Local groups in both Emba and Chloraka have been calling for refugees to be transported to other communities.
No other arrests have been made following the Emba incident, with police saying a vehicle belonging to one of the two complainants sustained €1000 worth of damage while damages to an establishment was estimated at 100 euros.