STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish police have opened an arson investigation into a fire at an asylum center in southern Stockholm early on Sunday which damaged a building and led 37 residents to be evacuated.

The fire began in the early hours of Sunday morning and was spotted by a passing police patrol. None of the residents at the center were injured in the blaze which was put out by fire fighters after several hours.

The police said they had begun a preliminary arson investigation but that they currently had no suspects and were unaware of any threats against the asylum center.

"We will now see if anybody in the area may have seen something," Sven-Erik Olsson at the Stockholm police's central despatch unit said. "The technical investigation of the scene will begin tomorrow."


What appeared to be an attempt at arson at the center had been discovered the night before when oil canisters had been left in an oven with the heat turned up, but staff were able to stop any blaze from erupting.

Sweden took in a record 163,000 asylum seekers last year, the most of any European country relative to the size of its population, before a government clamp down saw the numbers fall sharply.

Tensions over immigration have risen in the Nordic country in recent years and helped boost support for the opposition anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, now the third biggest party in parliament.

(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Mark Potter)

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