Rioting in Britain Spreads

Posted August 10th, 2011 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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London was largely calm Wednesday but the rioting that engulfed the British capital for the past few nights has spread to other cities, including Manchester and Birmingham.

Birmingham police say three men died when they were struck by a car during riots. The three men were trying to protect their community from looters. Police have a suspect in custody and a murder investigation is underway.

Witnesses say hundreds of rampaging youths smashed windows, looted stores, and burned buildings in Britain's third largest city Manchester. Police made 47 arrests related to the latest unrest.

The scene was much calmer in London where 16,000 police filled the streets. Many storekeepers closed early, and commuters flooded out of the city long before nightfall.

The violence broke out last week after police shot and killed a 29 year-old father of four in the economically-depressed Tottenham neighborhood. Some reports say the man shot a handgun at police when they stopped his taxicab. But a police investigative report Tuesday says a handgun found at the scene had not been fired. The reason why police shot the victim is still unclear.

Tottenham is home to a large number of ethnic minorities and has a history of racial tensions. In 1985, a police officer was hacked to death when Afro-Caribbean youths in a deprived housing estate went on a rampage.

Many London residents say the riots were spurred by anger over the gloomy economic situation in north London, including high unemployment and cuts in public services.

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to restore law and order and and punish those responsible for the violence that left parts London looking like a war zone. Burned out buildings, the charred skeletons of cars, and glass line the streets. The prime minister called the violence “criminality pure and simple.”

Mr. Cameron has called a second emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the unrest. The prime minister will Thursday address an emergency session of parliament.

The London riots left one person dead and 58 hurt, mostly police officers.