Tales from frontline of Britain's riots
From a top restaurant locking diners in its cellar to protect them from rioters to a man chasing looters from his flat, vivid human tales are emerging from the riots in London.
Here is a selection from the frontlines of the unrest.
-- Staff at Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury in Notting Hill, an upscale area of west London, beat back hooded looters with rolling pins to protect their diners on Monday night.
A group of around 40 rioters smashed through the door, rampaged through the dining room, took mobile phones, plates off the tables of some diners and tried to take the till, staff at the restaurant told AFP.
Blogger Louise Yang said the looters yelled at people to get down and that two of them pulled her wedding and engagement rings from her fingers.
"The kitchen staff at The Ledbury went beyond their call of duty by rushing up from the kitchen with rolling pins, fry baskets, and other dangerous kitchen tools and scared off the looters," she wrote Tuesday.
"Then they provided well-needed glasses of alcohol including champagne and whisky. When word came that the looters were coming back a second time, they ushered us into the bathrooms and told us to lock the doors. A few minutes later, they led us into the wine cellar and told us to lock ourselves in there."
The Ledbury was voted 34th best restaurant in the world in the San Pellegrino restaurant awards in April.
-- A resident in the riot-hit east London area of Hackney told how he had clambered across the rooftops to flee from a fire and chased thugs out of his flat on Monday night.
Neil Allum, 36, a prop maker and artist, said he scrambled across the roof to escape a fire in the convenience store below the flat on the edge of Pembury Estate, which did not eventually destroy the property.
"I had to climb across the roofs. I was torn between, 'Shall I stay and try to protect my stuff or do you just run?," he told AFP.
"I went to move my car and when I came back, I found people had smashed in the front door and were running amok in the flat. I just went mad and chased them out of there.
"It was wild. It is actually a lovely street -- it has got its troubles but it's a real community. I love this street."
He said his flat now reeks of alcohol and of smoke.
-- A gang of rioters helped an injured young man to his feet -- then mugged him.
Video footage shows the young man bleeding from a facial injury and sitting on a railway bridge in an unidentified part of London.
He is helped to his feet by an older rioter, but another then comes up from behind and quietly unzips the victim's rucksack. Both rioters then inspect the bag and remove an object before walking off.
"Oh my God," says a woman filming the video.
© 2011 AFP