More violence in British capital after riots

LONDON,  (Reuters) – Groups of youths attacked shops  and damaged a police car in north London yesterday as police  sent in reinforcements to prevent more rioting on the scale that  laid waste to another area of  the British capital 24 hours  earlier.

Scattered incidents broke out last evening in Enfield,  a few miles north of the deprived London neighbourhood of  Tottenham, which was hit by some of the worst riots seen in  London for years on Saturday night after a protest over the  fatal shooting of a man by armed police a few days earlier  turned violent.

Police Commander Christine Jones said the police had “extra  resources” on duty across the capital yesterday.

“Anyone else who thinks they can use the events from last  night as an excuse to commit crime will be met by a robust  response from us.” she said in a statement.

Three shops were damaged, and two of them looted, in Enfield  and the rear window of a police car was smashed, police said,  adding that several people had been arrested.

Local pharmacist Dipak Shah told the BBC he and his brother  had barricaded themselves in their shop after 15 youths smashed  the window and tried to break in.

“It was very threatening. It felt as though they could have  actually killed or maimed somebody,” he said.

A Reuters photographer at the scene said a jeweller’s shop  window was broken but that riot police had flooded the centre of  the suburb and youths, who had earlier hurled missiles at  police, had dispersed.

Amid rumours there could be more flare-ups yesterday, police  Commander Adrian Hanstock told Reuters there was “a lot of  ill-informed and inaccurate speculation on social media sites”  that could inflame the situation.

In Tottenham, an area with large numbers of ethnic  minorities and high unemployment, workers began cleaning up  shops trashed by looters and police sealed off a main street to  investigate crime scenes after rioters throwing petrol bombs set  fire to police patrol cars, buildings and a double-decker bus.

Politicians and police blamed the violence on criminal thugs  but residents attributed it to local tensions and anger over  hardship.

Police said 26 officers had been injured as rioters  bombarded them with missiles and bottles, looted buildings  including banks, shops and council offices, and torched three  patrol cars near Tottenham police station.

Residents said they had to flee their homes as mounted  police and riot officers on foot charged the crowd to push  rioters back.

The Metropolitan Police, which will handle next year’s  London Olympic Games in what is expected to be Britain’s biggest  peacetime police operation, faced questions about how the  trouble had been allowed to escalate.

The disturbance was finally brought under control on Sunday.  Buildings were still smouldering, bricks littered the roads and  burglar alarms continued to ring out.

At a nearby retail park, electrical stores and mobile phone  shops had been ransacked, with boxes for large plasma TVs  discarded outside, along with CDs and glass from smashed  windows. “They have taken almost everything,” said Saad Kamal,  27, branch manager of retailer JD Sports. “Whatever is left is  damaged.”

 APPEAL FOR CALM   

Local MP David Lammy said it was not known if everyone had  escaped flats above shops that were gutted by fire. “A community  that was already hurting has now had the heart ripped out of  it,” he told reporters.

Police and community leaders said local people had been  horrified by what happened and appealed for calm.

The trouble broke out on Saturday night following the  peaceful demonstration over the shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, who  was killed after what was reported to be an exchange of gunfire  with police on Thursday. Duggan’s death is now being  investigated by the independent police watchdog.
The riots come amid deepening gloom in Britain, with the  economy struggling to grow while the government is imposing deep  public spending cuts and tax rises brought into help eliminate a  budget deficit which peaked at more than 10 percent of GDP.

“Tottenham is a deprived area. Unemployment is very, very  high … they are frustrated,” said Uzodinma Wigwe, 49, who was  made redundant from his job as a cleaner recently.

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