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Singapore PM condoles Indian's death in accident

world Updated: Dec 09, 2013 20:58 IST
Singapore riots

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today condoled the death of an Indian national who was killed in a road accident in the city-state's Indian district.

Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, was fatally knocked down last night by a bus in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break, triggering the country's worst outbreak of violence in over 40 years.

"I also offer my deepest condolences to the family of Mr Sakthivel Kumaravelu, who was killed in the traffic accident that preceded the riot," said the Prime Minister, who also ordered a probe into the "serious" incident.

Kumaravelu, who hailed from Tamil Nadu, was pronounced dead at scene after being hit by the bus.

"I have directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to convene a Committee of Inquiry (COI) to look into this serious incident. The COI will look into the factors that led to the incident and how the incident was handled on the ground," said Lee in a statement.

It would also review the current measures to manage areas where foreign workers congregate, whether they are adequate and how they can be improved.

"There is no excuse for such violent and criminal behaviour. We are investigating the incident thoroughly and will deal with the culprits with the full force of the law," he said.

Lee pointed out that the riot was an isolated incident arising from the unlawful actions of an unruly mob reacting to a fatal traffic accident.

"The vast majority of foreign workers in Singapore are law-abiding workers. They contribute to our economy, working hard to earn a living and support their families back home. We must not allow this bad incident to tarnish our views of the foreign worker community here," said Lee, assuring both foreign workers and Singaporeans.

Lee also urged Singaporeans to remain calm and continue with "our daily lives".

"Support our frontline officers in the Home Team, and share any leads you may have with the police. Let us stay united as one people as we deal with this unfortunate incident and keep Singapore a safe and orderly country," he said.

Singapore police earlier today said it has arrested 24 Indian nationals and 3 others for last night's rioting following the death of Kumaravelu.

Some 400 South Asian rioted at the accident scene.

Singapore previously witnessed violence of this scale during race riots in 1969.