Riots erupt in London after fatal shooting (Lead)

August 7th, 2011 - 7:32 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 7 (IANS) More than 20 police officers were injured, cars torched and shops were looted when a major riot erupted in London following a fatal police firing.

The violence followed local anger over the fatal shooting of a suspected gangster by cops. At least 26 policemen were injured as rioters rampaged through Tottenham Saturday night. Forty-two people were arrested.

Initially, a peaceful demonstration was held outside a police station on Tottenham’s High Road from about 5 p.m., where locals called for “justice” after 29-year-old Mark Duggan was killed Thursday, The Star newspaper reported.

But witnesses said as anger turned to violence, hundreds more protesters appeared on the scene - apparently alerted by people using Twitter.

Police, who had apparently been expecting trouble, responded with hundreds of heavily-protected riot officers, while fire crews struggled to get near the blazes.

Fortunately, there were no officers in the police cars when they were attacked and set on fire.

Looters hurried away from wrecked stores in nearby Tottenham Hale Retail Park with trolleys loaded with stolen goods.

Commander Adrian Hanstock said the disorder and violence had been completely unacceptable.

“The behaviour by a criminal minority put police officers, fire brigade personnel and the public at significant risk,” Hanstock said.

“The death of Duggan is extremely regrettable and will be the subject of an independent investigation.”

“It is absolutely tragic that someone has died, but that does not give a criminal minority the right to destroy businesses and people livelihoods and steal from their local community,” the newspaper quoted Hanstock as saying.

“Our officers were subjected to bottles, petrol bombs and other missiles being thrown at them.”

“We have recovered excellent CCTV and those who committed disorder and criminal acts will be identified and held account for their actions,” he added.

Live TV images last night showed a double-decker bus first emitting clouds of smoke where Tottenham High Road meets Brook St. It then burst into flames which quickly gutted the vehicle, as its fuel tanks exploded.

It is believed the trouble erupted near the Broadwater Farm estate. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said a large crowd was on the streets Saturday night but not all the onlookers were involved in the disorder.

Local resident David Akinsanya, 46, said shop windows were smashed. He said: “It’s really bad. I’m feeling unsafe.”

He added: “There was a line of about 15 riot police in front of the police station on the north side and loads of uniformed officers on the south side of the police station.”

“They weren’t making any effort to go into the crowd. Every now and again they would rush the crowd and the crowd would run.”

Stuart Radose had to flee his flat above a Carpetright shop as a fire ravaged the building. Describing the scenes, he said: “We live on the top floor. We could see the rioters coming closer. Aldi was on fire and barricades were being made by rioters. It was really scary.”

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said paramedics had treated 11 people, 10 of whom were taken to hospital.

The London Fire Brigade said Sunday: “At the moment all the fires are under control. We are still at the scene of some of them to damp them down and make sure everything is out.”

“The rioting in Tottenham last (Saturday) night was utterly unacceptable. “There is no justification for the aggression the police and the public faced, or for the damage to property.

“There is now a police investigation into the rioting and we should let that process happen,” Sun quoted a spokesman for 10 Downing Street as saying.

Home Secretary Theresa May criticised the violence, saying: “I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham last night. Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is probing the shooting of Duggan. Police say a handgun was found at the scene and a bullet was later found stuck in an officer’s radio.

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