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Violent conflict between two groups with 'opposing views' erupts in northeast Calgary

The Calgary Police Service says around 150 people were initially involved in the clash before it was de-escalated.

The Calgary Police Service shared that around 150 people were involved in the incident. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
The Calgary Police Service shared that around 150 people were involved in the incident. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Violence between two clashing groups erupted in northeast Calgary on Saturday evening, shutting down traffic and prompting local police to recommend people avoid a neighbourhood.

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the incident occurred around 5 p.m. in the community of Falconridge. It added that around 150 people — many of whom brandished weapons — were believed to have been initially involved.

"The CPS considers this to be a serious event and has dedicated resources to keep the peace," the service said in its post. "This is not a protest. This is a violent conflict between two groups with opposing views."

While Calgarians were asked to avoid the area on Saturday evening, the CPS said its "primary goal is to ensure public safety" and that it expects a "peaceful resolution."

An investigation is currently underway, but CTV News reported that the conflict was between two Eritrean groups.

People from both groups were carrying long sticks and bats according to video captured by witnesses. Some people were wearing white shirts with the Eritrean flag, while others wore blue T-shirts and carried blue flags with the former Eritrean flag.

It's not the first incident of similar violent clashes occurring in recent months.

Edmonton saw a similar clash in mid-August, where at least 11 people were sent to the hospital, according to local police. It occurred after authorities withdrew a permit for an Eritrean event due to safety concerns.

On Aug. 5, another demonstration occurred at a Toronto park, leaving nine people injured, one of whom suffered serious stab wounds.

That incident, which occurred at Earlscourt Park in the city's west end, happened while Festival Eritrea Toronto planned to host events between Aug. 5 and 7 at the park.

Protestors display flags and signs in Earlscourt Park in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 5. Toronto police say one person was stabbed and eight others were injured during a protest in the city’s west end. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey
Protestors display flags and signs in Earlscourt Park in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 5. Toronto police say one person was stabbed and eight others were injured during a protest in the city’s west end. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey

Rival Eritrean groups also clashed in Israel on Sept. 2, leaving more than one hundred injured in what's considered one of the worst confrontations among African asylum seekers and migrants in Tel Aviv in recent memory.

That incident saw people from both groups brandishing construction lumber, pieces of metal, rocks and at least one axe in a south Tel Aviv neighbourhood.

Following the violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "a red line" had been crossed, and that all African migrants that he described as "illegal infiltrators" will be deported.

In early August, hundreds of people were detained in Sweden after up to a thousand protesters attacked the Eritrea Scandinavia festival in Stockholm.

At least 22 police officers were also injured during an Eritrean cultural festival that took place in the western German town of Giessen in July. That event saw demonstrators throw "massive attacks" against officers, according to local police.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the current ruler of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, rising to power, marking three decades since the country became independent from Ethiopia.