Nervous Britons prepared to face a fourth night of mayhem on Tuesday as Prime Minister David Cameron recalled parliament and pledged a crackdown on rioters who have turned swathes of the British capital into areas resembling war zones.
Cameron said police numbers would go up from 6,000 to 16,000 on Tuesday."You will feel the full force of the law. And if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishments," warned the prime minister, who returned home cutting short a vacation in Tuscany.
This is the biggest outbreak of rioting to hit the British capital in living memory. The violence has engulfed more than a dozen areas right across London and spread to other cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Liverpool.
The violence began in the north London district of Tottenham on August 6 following the shooting of Mark Duggan, suspected to be a gangster, by police.
All police leave has been cancelled and parliament will meet Thursday for an emergency session, Cameron said in a bid to calm nerves after a meeting of his emergency security committee, Cobra.
But frightened residents of London and several other cities, who have watched small numbers of unarmed police completely overwhelmed by rampaging mobs, took no chances and boarded up shops for fear of further rioting.
Hooded rioters have stalked the streets for three consecutive nights, firebombing buildings and cars, targeting police with missiles and looting and smashing shops.
More than 450 people have been arrested and 100 charged so far, Cameron said.
On Tuesday, police announced the first fatality — a man was shot dead in the middle of rioting in the east London locality of Croydon on Monday night.
Both Cameron and London mayor Boris Johnson, who, too, was on holiday for the first three nights of rioting, were heckled by residents of riot-torn areas. "Where were they (police)?" a woman shouted at Johnson in Clapham.
"By 5pm we knew they were going to hit. I was in my salon when a brick came through the window, and no one was there to defend me."See photo gallery