New violence in Britain after PM vows to restore order

9th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rioters went on the rampage in Britain for a fourth night on Tuesday as Prime Minister David Cameron recalled parliament and ordered thousands of extra police onto the streets after the worst riots in decades devastated parts of London.

Violence erupted in new areas from Manchester in northern England where youths set shops alight, to the industrial cities of Wolverhampton and West Bromwich in central England where people smashed into stores and torched cars, police said.

Police in London were bracing for more trouble after what they said was the worst night of disorder in living memory, and their numbers were ramped up from 6,000 to 16,000 on Tuesday night as Cameron vowed to do "everything necessary to restore order to the streets".

The orgy of violence had rolled across the city on Tuesday night, with cars burned, shops looted and running battles between police and rioters.

The disorder also claimed its first fatality, with the death of a man found shot during looting in south London.

The prime minister cut short his holiday in Italy to return to Britain for an emergency meeting on the riots and condemned the looting and arson attacks as "sickening scenes".

In a development which will do nothing to calm tensions, Britain's police watchdog said it found no evidence that Mark Duggan -- whose shooting by police last week was the catalyst for the riots in London -- had fired a gun at officers.

In a pre-planned operation, armed officers stopped the taxi in which Duggan, 29, was travelling in the multi-ethnic district of Tottenham in north London. Shots were fired and Duggan died at the scene.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said Tuesday: "At this stage there is no evidence that the handgun found at the scene was fired during the incident."

The dead man's family condemned the violence Tuesday, saying in a statement that they were "deeply distressed" by the unrest, which they insisted "has nothing to do with finding out what has happened to Mark".

Despite the controversy surrounding the shooting, Cameron warned troublemakers: "You will feel the full force of the law. And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishments."

Some 525 people have been arrested in London in the last three days, including 310 overnight Monday, while 111 police officers were injured, Scotland Yard said.

On Monday night, riots swept through London and cities including Birmingham in central England and the northwest port city of Liverpool.

Police said they had made nearly 140 arrests as youths looted shops in Birmingham city centre overnight, while police in the southwestern city of Bristol battled to contain a mob of 150 youths.

In London, Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said the rampage by hundreds of hooded youths was "unprecedented" and police resources were stretched "to an extent I have never seen before".

He said plastic bullets -- used during sectarian unrest in Northern Ireland but never before in mainland Britain -- have been considered to stem the tide of unrest.

The violence has raised questions about security ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games, and it prompted the Football Association to cancel Wednesday's friendly between England and the Netherlands at Wembley Stadium.

In some areas on Monday, rioters took control of the streets with little sign of a police presence. In Clapham, southwest London, hundreds looted a major department store for at least two hours, witnesses said.

The capital's Mayor Boris Johnson toured the area Tuesday after he returned hastily from holiday and was confronted by angry residents saying: "Why are you here now? It's too late."

Newspapers declared "mob rule", and one police officer, Paul Deller, admitted on Tuesday: "We simply ran out of units to send."

Despite the scenes of destruction, Acting Police Commissioner Tim Godwin said there were "no plans" for the army to get involved.

The speaker of the House of Commons has agreed to recall parliament on Thursday so lawmakers could debate their response to the riots, Cameron said -- a highly unusual move highlighting the seriousness of the crisis.

A 26-year-old man found with a gunshot wound to the head in a car in Croydon died in hospital on Tuesday, police said, becoming the first fatality of the riots.

© 2011 AFP

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