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Palma.—In the early hours of yesterday morning, nearly one hundred members of the National and Local Police forces, many of them armed, took to the streets of the city centre neighbourhood of Son Gotleu as dozens of ethnic gypsies and Nigerian residents clashed.

Son Gotleu is one of the most socially depressed and deprived districts in the capital and has a very diverse community of various nationalities.

Five people were arrested during clashes on Monday night and at least two more were taken into custody early yesterday morning.

According to the police, the clashes lasted for some two hours with wooden stakes, baseball bats, steel pipes and various other objects used as weapons.

The National Police riot squad was first on the scene and was later backed up by the Local Police.

Motives?

Yesterday, as a small number of police remained on the scene of the clashes to prevent tensions from flaring up again as night fell, the investigation into the cause of these latest clashes continued.

There are apparently two motives, according to the police.

One is that one of the gypsies was refused a drink in a local bar and turned abusive and violent.

The other is that a local Nigerian resident ‘touched’ a female ethnic gypsy.

This is not the first time that race riots have broken out in Son Gotleu, which is also a renown drugs den.

In August, 2009, massive riots involving some 400 people broke out in the neighbourhood.

Again the clashes were between ethnic gypsies and Africans living in the area.

Two people were seriously injured, numerous others treated for minor injuries and 20 cars were damaged or destroyed.

On that occasion, the riot was sparked by an argument over the owner ship of a pair of sun glasses.

Then, three years later in August, 2011, Son Gotleu was again the scene of more racial tension.

This time, the riots were sparked by the apparently accidental death of a local Nigerian resident who fell from the fourth floor of an apartment block in the neighbourhood.

Initially, a number of eye witnesses claimed that the 28-year-old had been thrown to his death by a group of three gypsies and this sparked immediate clashes.

The violence raged for two days with hundreds of police involved.

Five people were eventually arrested but shops were looted (while others remained closed until the unrest died down), cars and waste bins torched and a large number of people injured.