British police arrest 138 as riots spread to Birmingham

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British police said Tuesday they had arrested 138 people in Birmingham after a night of rioting as violence spread from London to elsewhere in the country.

At least 30 shops and other premises were attacked in Birmingham, Britain's second biggest city with around one million residents, overnight Monday.

Up to 800 masked rioters smashed and looted shops in the city's main shopping centre and a police station was also set on fire in an inner city area, West Midlands police said.

About 400 police in riot gear were deployed to deal with the disturbances, with more officers supporting them.

"Last night was a really terrible night for the country and a very bad night for Birmingham," said Chief Constable Chris Sims, head of West Midlands police.

"And let me say this; this was not an angry crowd, this was a greedy crowd. What we were dealing with was dishonesty and disorder."

He added many of those arrested were "astonishingly young."

"They are teenagers, girls and boys, and I would appeal to their parents and to the wider community to make sure that they don't go off tonight on to the streets but stay indoors where they are safe."

© 2011 AFP

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