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Finnish police back down as human chain blocks deportation of Afghan family

Central Finland police were forced to abandon a mission on Monday to pick up an Afghan family due for deportation. According to a police statement, demonstrators gathered at a Jyväskylä reception centre formed a human chain to prevent officials from removing the family for deportation -- and prompting officials to call for backup from seven additional units.

Salmirannan vastaanottokeskus
Image: Yle

Police in Jyväskylä retreated from an assignment to detain an Afghan family for deportation on Monday, when demonstrators at a reception centre where the family was staying attempted to prevent the deportation effort.

According to police a team from the Central Finland police immigration monitoring unit arrived at the reception centre shortly before noon on Monday to pick up the family for expulsion from Finland.

However police encountered difficulty carrying out the assignment when protesters gathered at the scene attempted to block the deportation.

Official accounts say that the police were forced to retreat into the home of the family slated for deportation, as protesters formed a human chain and prevented them from leaving the property.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Failed bids to block deportation

Detective Chief Inspector Jari Kinnunen said that officers are attempting to defuse the situation by negotiation and that the talks will continue as calmly as possible for as long as is required. He added that police did not resort to any use of force in the are.

Police reports indicate that the officers involved called for backup from additional patrols. Up to seven extra patrols arrived in the Salmiranta district to help enforce the deportation order.

Police have since cordoned off the area. An Yle reporter on the scene said that the scene appeared to be calm.

According to unconfirmed reports, the family comprised a father, mother and an eight-month-old infant.

Yle sources also indicated that efforts to block the deportation had been overruled in lower and higher courts.

Yle's reporter in Jyväskylä was able to contact the family via a video phone call, which showed two police officers in a room with the three-member family.

The family fled to Finland from Gazny in Afghanistan, where the father worked as a taxi driver, about two years ago. He told  Yle via an interpreter that returning to Afghanistan was not an option because of his family's Shia Muslim background.

He stressed that despite their negative asylum decision, the family did not want to leave Finland.

Meanwhile in a Twitter updated posted at about 4.25pm on Twitter, the Central Finland police department said that it had begun negotiations with the protesters and that officials were trying to keep the situation calm.

Edit: Updated at 4.50pm to include additional information about the family's background in Afghanistan and police updates on the developing situation.

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