Youths rampage in British city on fourth night of riots
Hundreds of masked youths rampaged through the centre of Manchester on Tuesday, smashing windows and going on a looting spree as the worst riots for decades in Britain spread to a new city on a fourth night of violence.
Violence erupted in Manchester, northwest England, for the first time since the riots began, with a huge group of youths locked in running battles with hundreds of riot police in the city centre.
The youths smashed shop windows and went on a looting spree, setting fire to shops and hurling missiles at police.
There were also serious outbreaks of violence in Birmingham and other parts of central England, but London -- which had borne the brunt of previous violence -- was largely quiet after thousands of extra police were ordered onto the streets.
The worst-hit was Manchester, however, where police were driven back by gangs of hundreds of youths who covered their faces with scarves and ski masks.
Gangs smashed into shoe shops, electronics shops and clothes stores and set fire to a girls' clothing store in the city centre.
Two raiders smashed the glass entrace of a shopping centre, opening the way for around 100 youths to pour into a shop before rushing out carrying clothing and shoes.
Gangs taunted the police, hurling stones and missiles at shop windows and jeering riot officers as they chased them. Riot police in vans chased groups of masked youths around the city.
One resident told the BBC that looting had gone on "for hours" in Manchester after riot police "were driven back" by youths.
Earlier, hundreds of youths were involved in a stand-off with riot police several miles away at a shopping centre in the Salford area of the city, where looting also broke out.
Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, of Greater Manchester Police, said youths had gathered that seemed "intent on committing disorder" and he urged people to stay away from the city centre.
"We will not allow such mindless criminal damage and wanton violence to go unpunished and we will arrest and prosecute anyone found to be involved in looting or acts of criminal damage," he said in a statement.
In Birmingham, police said they were dealing with "a large group of people causing disorder in several areas within the city centre.
"There have been some shops attacked, and there is also a report of a car having been set alight," a statement said.
In the industrial town of West Bromwich, near Birmingham, a 200-strong gang hurled missiles at police in riot gear, set vehicles alight and smashed up shops.
Violence also erupted in the nearby city of Wolverhampton, where youths broke into shops, according to police.
"In Wolverhampton, some stores have been broken into. In West Bromwich, there is currently some disorder and two cars have been set on fire," said a statement from West Midlands Police.
"Police officers are at both scenes dealing with the incidents."
West Midlands Police have already arrested more than 130 people after rioting late Monday in Birmingham, which saw shops smashed up and looted in the city centre and a police station set on fire.
© 2011 AFP