July 25, 2008 / 4:48 PM / 10 years ago

Chechens detained for Norway refugee centre attack

(Recasts with detentions, adds police statement, detail)

OSLO, July 25 (Reuters) - Police in Norway detained five Chechens on Friday suspected of involvement in an armed attack on Kurdish refugees at an asylum centre that wounded 23 people, officials said.

Officials gave no reason for the attach, which happened on Thursday night ion the village of Vaaler, south of Oslo. But the Norwegian news agency NTB quoted Ole Morten Lyng, an official at the centre, as saying that the attack was provoked by a "minor dispute" between Kurds and Chechens at the centre.

Local police said that five Chechen men, aged between 21 and 43, were detained for questioning over the attack. Police also asked for assistance from the National Criminal Investigation Service, they added.

"All of the detainees are of Chechen nationality," the police said in a statement. It did not identify them further.

Lyng said that between 40 and 50 Chechens armed with steel bars and other weapons attacked the centre.

"There also seem to have been knives involved... They went into the rooms and pulled out Kurds and beat them up," he told national broadcaster NRK radio.

A police officer said some of the attackers had machetes.

The attack was the second violent incident at a refugee centre in Norway in less than a week.

In an unrelated incident, a Somali teenage boy was shot and critically injured by an assailant at an asylum centre near Oslo on July 19. (Reporting by John Acher; editing by Sami Aboudi)

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