STOCKHOLM - An arsonist set fire to a mosque in central Sweden on Thursday injuring five people, police said, as the country grapples with a political crisis caused by the rise of the extreme right. ‘Somebody threw an object through a closed window and afterwards a fire started inside,’ police spokesman Lars Franzell told AFP. ‘There were between 15 and 20 people in the premises.’ Refugee-friendly Sweden woke up to the reality of a new political landscape in early December when the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats brought down the government by refusing to back its budget proposal in parliament.

The mosque is located on the ground floor of a building in the city of Eskilstuna, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of Stockholm. According to police, the fire started in the early afternoon. Police said they were investigating the incident as a case of aggravated arson but had no suspects yet. The five injured were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries including smoke inhalation, lacerations and fractures.

‘There has been an intensification of hatred against Muslims,’ Sweden’s Islamic Association head Omar Mustafa told public radio SR on Thursday. In January unknown perpetrators daubed black swastikas on the front door of a Stockholm mosque and in December last year neo-Nazis attacked a peaceful anti-racist protest in a Stockholm suburb, causing three people to be hospitalised.

The immigration debate has pitted the far right, which wants to cut the number of asylum seekers allowed into Sweden by 90 percent, against mainstream parties intent on preserving the Nordic country’s liberal policy. The people said that among 15 and 20 people were in the mosque, located in the ground floor of a building in a mainly residential area, when the fire erupted.

Local media footage showed smoke and flames billowing from the windows. ‘A witness saw somebody throw an object through the window of the building, which serves as a mosque, after which a violent fire began,’ police spokesman Lars Franzell said.

The five injured people were taken to hospital for treatment of injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to lacerations. No suspect has been apprehended yet, Franzell added. Emergency services in Eskilstuna, central Sweden, were called to the scene of the fire shortly after 1200 GMT, and police are treating it as arson.