Bloody battle over reindeer

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A reindeer owner in northern Norway landed in the hospital during the New Year’s weekend, the apparent victim of a bitter conflict over winter grazing rights.

Conflicts over reindeer grazing rights have turned fierce. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Johan Mikkel Kemi, age 36, was on his way home from a New Year’s Eve party in Karasjok when he was suddenly attacked by five men aged 18-25. The attack occurred on a street in the center of the city in Finnmark County.

“I wasn’t aware they were after me until I was assaulted,” Kemi told Aftenposten. “A couple of them held me down, while the others beat me up.” He was found unconscious by some local residents and later sent to hospital in Hammerfest with head injuries.

Kemi linked the assault to what he called “revenge” for questions he’d raised about another reindeer-owning clan’s herd. Kemi’s family reportedly has been involved in a feud over grazing rights with another larger family for many years. The conflict has blown up recently because large herds are competing for too little food as they graze on the Finnmark plateau.

The area has its own “reinpolitiet” (literally, reindeer police) who patrol the plateau and are aware of the grazing conflicts, which they are trying to keep from escalating.

Views and News staff