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Cyprus’ Violent Nightmare Before Easter: All Hell Breaks Out

NICOSIA – On the most somber of holidays – Easter – and the night before, Cypriot police and firefighters faced pandemonium and attacks while dealing with multiple fires and cars set ablaze, vandalism and chaos.

It was related to the practice of setting off fireworks on Easter Eve on a night leading into a day that’s supposed to be sacrosanct, the display of lighting firecrackers and bigger munitions common in Greece and Cyprus.

The Cyprus Mail reported that in 24 hours from 6 a.m.-6 a.m. from April 23-24, including Easter morning that the fire service was called out to 167 incidents, 158 of them fires.

The fire brigade responded to 58 incidents in Nicosia, 28 in Limassol, 43 in Larnaca, 13 in Paphos and eight in Famagusta, while the emergency unit EMAK responded to eight incidents, the paper also said.

One of the worst came when a 17-year-old in the capital Nicosia was rushed to a hospital and then private clinic after the fingers on his right hand were blown off in a firecracker explosion, witnesses saying he had been tossing them around.

Then a 35-year-old man was taken to a hospital with similar similar injuries after letting off firecrackers at a churchyard in Geri. He lost two fingers on his left hand and was also transferred to a Limassol clinic for treatment.

And in a third incident, a 34-year-old resident of Nicosia was also transported to the general hospital, with injuries to his left hand, a report to police claiming he was in a churchyard trying to remove an explosive device when it went off.

During the night, police and fire department were called numerous times to extinguish fires and investigate incidents of malicious damage to property, the paper said, no apparent reason why vandalism celebrates Easter.

Cars were set on fires a the old Nicosia hospital and in Emba Paphos in the early hours, in which the vehicles were destroyed and there was another attack in Limassol on a car with a firecracker put on the windshield.

There were also attacks on firefighters and police, authorities said, fire crews going to Limassol to put out a blaze assaulted by youths throwing stones at the fire engine, cracking the windshield.

In Nicosia, around 1.30 a.m. firefighters were called to extinguish a fire that spread to dry grass, where they were attacked people throwing stones Molotov cocktails and other objects at them until police intervened, the paper said.

Those were only the most serious incidents with dozens of others being reported that kept police and firefighters hopping between scenes of troubles

after the fire service urged municipalities to stop people setting bonfires.

Fire service spokesman Andreas Kettis said despite that plea that some municipalities provided wood for people to start fires, leaving the respondents unable to cope with it.

“The police and the fire brigade cannot be everywhere,” he said.

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