A firecracker thrown by three boys set fire to a truck in Larnaca on Monday, as the Easter festivities wound down without serious injuries but lots of public disturbance and rioting.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said no serious injuries from firecrackers had been recorded as the force cracked down on the ‘tradition’ and launched information campaigns to educate youths about the dangers.
He said they had seized over 1,300 firecrackers and arrested 20 people, “a number that is smaller compared with previous years.”
“What should be noted is that comparing the statistics, on average between 2005 and 2015 over 10 injuries were recorded (annually) in serious incidents including maiming, while in past years there were even deaths,” he said.
Monday’s incident happened at 6.30pm while three boys, aged 12 and 13, were busy tossing firecrackers near the Kathari primary school.
One of them apparently set fire to a truck parked outside a garage, causing damage to its roof before it was put out by the fire service.
Questioned by police, the boys said the fire was not intentional.
Police were out in force in the past few days to prevent undesirable incidents, especially on Saturday evening when youths lit the traditional bonfires and set off firecrackers.
Officers patrolled sensitive areas in all districts, usually outside or near churches and schools, throughout Saturday evening and early Sunday morning.
In the Nicosia suburb of Strovolos, police were informed at around 8.30pm that youths had collected a large number of car tyres, which they had planned on burning.
An operation was launched, with the help of the anti-riot squad and the fire service, breaking up an assembly of around 50 individuals.
Authorities seized around 200 tyres, which were transported to the district HQ. Officers also confiscated 22 firecrackers found in the possession of a youth.
At a village in Nicosia, around three hours later, youths blocked a road prompting police to intervene to restore traffic.
At 2am, again in Nicosia, officers were notified about a fight in a school, which ended with two men, aged 23 and 25, seeking treatment at A&E.
An hour later, officers were called to disperse a group of youths setting off firecrackers. At 4am, youths torched rubbish bins in two separate incidents in Nicosia.
Limassol police were also busy on Saturday. At 11.30pm police and firefighters rushed to a scene outside a church where youths set fire to an electricity pole – wasn’t clear whether it was one lying around or in situ with power lines connected. Around 70 individuals at the scene started hurling firecrackers and stones at the officers the minute they spotted them.
One officer was in lightly injured and taken to hospital.
At 1.15am police rushed to an area near a church were around 30 youths were hurling firecrackers and setting fire to dry grass. The blaze was put out by the fire service but not before burning plastic road signs.
The youths meanwhile, hurled stones, firecrackers, and verbal abuse at the officers who arrested an 18-year-old.
An hour later police were informed that youths had set tyres on fire and blocked a road near a church in Limassol.
Some 30 youths welcomed officers with stones, prompting them to call for reinforcements.
Police arrested two 16-year-olds and two others aged 16 and 20. Two officers were slightly injured and treated in hospital.
Two 14-year-olds also detained were subsequently released in the care of their parents.