British police arrest key suspect in student riot

12th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

British police on Friday arrested a man suspected of throwing a fire extinguisher off the roof at officers during a student protest that beseiged the prime minister's party headquarters.

Detectives have been scouring evidence to establish who hurled the object as a thin line of officers below tried to protect the eight-storey London office block housing David Cameron's governing Conservative party.

The 23-year-old suspect was arrested in Cambridgeshire, eastern England, the county surrounding the famed university city of Cambridge.

Nobody was hurt in the incident during Wednesday's protest, which rapidly got out of hand.

Rioters laid siege to the 30 Millbank building, completely smashing through the security glass frontage, trashing the lobby and attacking the police.

The unnamed 23-year-old man was arrested "on suspicion of violent disorder", Scotland Yard said in a statement.

"He is in custody at a Cambridgeshire police station. This arrest follows an investigation into public disorder on Wednesday where a fire extinguisher was thrown from the roof of Millbank."

Top police federation representatives have called for the person who flung the metal canister to be charged with attempted murder after it narrowly missed riot squad officers.

The rampage followed a march by tens of thousands of students against the government's plans to triple university tuition fees as part of a programme of deep spending cuts as it seeks to curb Britain's record deficit.

Police, politicians and student leaders are still raking over the fall-out from the violence, which caught them all by surprise.

A total of 41 officers were injured, with seven taken to hospital.

Some 55 people have been arrested, 34 of them men.

"Of these, the majority have their occupation shown as students or a variation thereof," Scotland Yard said.

Ten are aged under 18, while one is in his early 30s. The remaining 44 are aged between 18 and 26.

The fire extinguisher incident was one of the defining moments in the four-hour stand-off.

Repairing the destruction caused as demonstrators ran amok could cost tens of thousands of pounds (dollars, euros).

© 2010 AFP

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