Today's Paper

Another night of arson as violence spreads in London

Target of fury: A building reduced to rubble at Croydon, south of London, on Tuesday after a third night of violence on the streets of the city. Violence escalated across London and at least three other cities on Tuesday as police fought thousands of rioters and looters. — PHOTO: AFP

Target of fury: A building reduced to rubble at Croydon, south of London, on Tuesday after a third night of violence on the streets of the city. Violence escalated across London and at least three other cities on Tuesday as police fought thousands of rioters and looters. — PHOTO: AFP  

Cameron cuts short holiday in Italy and returns home

Britain's long-dreaded summer of discontent appears to have arrived with a vengeance as London endured another night of arson and looting on Monday with violence sweeping across the capital from the inner-city racial hotspots in the north, east and the south-east to the more prosperous western parts such as Ealing and upscale Notting Hill where David Cameron lived before he became Prime Minister.

As the trouble spread beyond London, engulfing Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol, in what police described as acts of “copycat criminality,” Mr. Cameron cut short his holiday in Italy and returned home on Tuesday to take control of the crisis.

Parliament is to be recalled from summer recess to discuss the worst outbreak of violence in more than two decades.

Fearing another night of violence, police were advising shops, restaurants and theatres to close early. More than 16,000 police officers were being deployed after complaints that police were “invisible” in many places as rioters took control of the capital's streets reportedly using a special Blackberry messaging service to coordinate the attacks.

Images of burning vehicles, shops being attacked and looted and terror-stricken victims cowering from rampaging mobs dominated front pages and television screens. A woman, filmed reportedly leaping from a building in Croydon in south London after it was set on fire, captured the sense of panic as London descended into mayhem. Police, heavily outnumbered in most areas, were accused of “surrendering to mob rule.”

Mr. Cameron, looking stern and talking tough, condemned what he called “sickening scenes of people looting, vandalising, thieving, robbing.” The government would “do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets,” he said and warned rioters that they would feel the full force of the law.

“If you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment,” he said alluding to the fact that many of those alleged to be behind the violence were thought to be barely in their teens.

London Mayor Boris Johnson was booed when he visited Clapham, west London, carrying a broom in a theatrical show of “clearing up the mess.”

What started off as a peaceful protest in Tottenham, north London, at the weekend over the death in police shooting of an Afro-Caribbean youth, 29-year-old Mark Duggan, has since descended into what Mark's own family condemned as “mindless violence.”

“Mark wouldn't have wanted this,” they said.

Monday's flare-up started in Hackney, north London, after a man was stopped and searched by police. It soon spread to other areas and by midnight large pockets of the capital were in turmoil.

The story everywhere was the same: groups of hooded and masked youths rampaging through shopping centres smashing shop-fronts, vandalising property, picking up goods (boxes of shoes, television sets, bags of clothing) and walking off.



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