A violent clash between two groups shut down traffic in a northeast Calgary neighbourhood Saturday evening.
The confrontation, between two Eritrean groups, closed Falconridge Boulevard in both directions between Castleridge Blvd. and McKnight Blvd. N.E.
“Around six o’clock, maybe 150 to 200 young guys gathered in this parking space and then they were holding long sticks in their hands and then they rushed towards the other side,” said Mian Wahid, who was in the area when the fight broke out.
“It was looking like they were going there to attack some other people or some other group,” Wahid said. “Initially, I thought that they were protesting, but suddenly they started rushing towards the side.”
In video captured by bystanders, men from both groups can be seen carrying long sticks and bats, some appear to be wearing helmets as well.
Some wore white shirts printed with the Eritrean flag, while others donned blue T-shirts or and carried blue flags with the former Eritrean flag.
Another witness said he was parked in a lot on Castleridge Blvd. as the conflict broke out.
“People were coming out of their cars with two-by-fours and pipe, so I put my phone up and started taking videos,” he said. “One guy told me they were protesting the dictatorship in Eritrea and I thought, ‘Why do they have two-by-fours and pipes if they’re protesting a dictatorship?’
“I had to leave, but when I came back, all hell was breaking loose with cops.”
Dozens of police and first responder vehicles could be seen at the location, as well as police officers on horseback.
Some minor injuries have been reported, but police have not given a number.
A heavy police presence remained in the area Saturday night, with officers reporting they had cleared the parking lot of the strip mall near McKnight Blvd. and Falconridge Boulevard N.E. around 9 p.m.
This year marks 30 years since Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia. Since its separation, the country has been led by President Isaias Afwerki. Millions of Eritreans have fled the country, which has no elections or free media.
The anniversary has been marked by several clashes between rival Eritrean groups, with events in Toronto and Edmonton, as well as a clash in Israel on Friday.