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City reels under riots

world Updated: Aug 09, 2011 02:05 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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Rioting spread from one of London's poorest districts to other parts on Monday after a weekend of mayhem when youths looted shops, attacked police and torched vehicles in the biggest outbreak of street violence to hit the British capital in over 25 years.

Three days of violence has engulfed several areas of London with large black populations, but rioters have included whites too. As riots spreads, prime minister David Cameron is on a holiday in Italy.

On Monday, at least 100 hooded youths took to the streets in Hackney and Lewisham, smashing shop windows and pelting police with missiles as rampaging civil unrest spread from the original hotspot of Tottenham in north London. The attacks were coordinated through the use of twitter and mobile phone texts, leaving police to play catch-up.

Britain's home minister Theresa May cut short her summer holiday in Switzerland to return home and consult with police chiefs on how to contain the rioting that flared after police shot dead a suspect in Tottenham in controversial circumstances on Thursday.

Mark Duggan, an alleged drug dealer and gangster, was killed by police who said a handgun was later found at the scene. But newspapers reported on Monday that a bullet found lodged in the wireless set of one of the officers was in fact a police issue. So far 27 people have been charged out of some 215 who were arrested. Around 30 police officers have been injured in clashes with 300 rioters. Carpetright, a sprawling shop and Tottenham landmark, was burnt to cinders on Sunday.

"It looks like the Second World War, like the blitz that we lived through," said Tottenham resident Stuart Radose. Carpetright had 30 flats above the shop and residents were seen fleeing in their nightwear.

On Sunday night, upto 200 youths looted shops in Brixton.