UK vows to fight back to crush unrest amid riots



UK vows to fight back to crush unrest amid riots London: UK Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to "fight back" to crush the unrest that spread to central and northern cities from London, even as the focus on checking violence tonight shifted to Birmingham, where the killing of three Asian-origin men generated racial tensions.

Manchester too saw a London-style heavy police presence. Tensions led to early closure of shops and offices amidst fears of renewed violence, reports from the city said.

Vowing not to allow "a culture of fear" to take over the streets, Cameron said water cannons -- never used in mainland UK -- would now be made available to police, apart from plastic bullets, to deal with violence after four nights of rioting and looting by hooded youths who ransacked stores and torched vehicles.

The police and the law enforcement agencies would not be short of resources and would have the full backing of the state behind them, he said, announcing "We needed a fightback and a fightback is under way."

Authorities maintained the police strength of 16,000 in London, which has so far led to an uneasy calm. The courts were working all out to deal with the nearly 800 individuals arrested over the last four days no one had been granted bail so far.

Outside a gurdwara in Southall in west London, Sikhs vowed to protect their place of worship from the rioters. The killing of three young British Asians in Birmingham by a speeding car while they were trying to protect their community from rioters generated racial tensions. Residents warned that if speedy justice were not delivered, things could get out of hand.

Reports from Birmingham said there was intense anger among the Asian community as leader tried to calm passions. There is a history of clashes between the Asians and Afro-Caribbean communities in Birmingham, the last being in 2005.

The victims, brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Mussavir, 32 and 30, and Haroon Jahan, 21, were among some 80 young men who turned out after a gang tried to ransack a petrol station on Monday night.

West Midlands police are treating the incident as murder and have arrested a man near the scene and recovered a vehicle. Haroon Jahan's father appealed for calm as huge crowds of angry Asians gathered near the place where the three were mowed down.

Though a massive police presence ensured that London remained calm now, the copycat riots spread to cities of Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham.

Prime Minister David Cameron chaired another meeting of the government emergency committee and said the police will continue their tough approach towards rioting.

A more detailed statement will be made in the House of Commons when it reconvenes tomorrow for a special session to discuss the riots that have blighted Britain's image abroad and raised questions about its ability to hold a trouble-free Olympics next year.

"This continued violence is simply not acceptable, and it will be stopped. We will not put up with this in our country.

We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets. We needed a fightback and a fightback is underway," Cameron said.

Rejecting concerns about human rights that prevent publication of photographs of suspects as "phoney", he said the government was determined to bring the full force of law on the perpetrators of violence, and noted that courts were working overnight for speedy disposal of cases.

Cameron said: "We will not let any phoney concerns about human rights get in the way of the publication of these pictures [of suspects] and the apprehension of these individuals....We have seen the worst of Britain but also the best of Britain with millions of people who have signed up on Facebook to support the polie and the people who volunteered for clean ups".

He added: "There are parts of our society that are not just broken but frankly sick. When we see children of 12 or 13 looting it's clear there are things that are badly wrong in our society".

According to him, there was a "a complete lack of responsibility" in some parts of British society.

"People are allowed to feel the world owes them something and that their actions don't have consequences. Some parts of society are not just broken, but sick...Right now the priority is still clear - we will take every action necessary to bring order to our streets", Cameron said.

In Birmingham, groups of residents in Winson Green, the inner-city area where the men were killed, openly warned of inter-communal violence if the murder inquiry fails to produce rapid results.

Their anger was passed on by the local Labour MP for Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, and the Bishop of Aston, Rev Anthony Watson, who joined a meeting at a mosque, which locals claimed was on looters' hit-list of targets where money might be found.

The bishop warned of possible reprisals and events "potentially having an ugly race dimension".

Haroon's father Jahan said: "He was trying to help his community and he has been killed. He was a very well-liked kid. I can't describe to anybody what it feels like to lose a son. He was the youngest of three, and anything I ever wanted done, I would always ask Haroon to sort it out for me. A day from now, maybe two days from now, the whole world will forget and nobody will care."

Calling for calm and no attempt at revenge, he said: "I don't blame the government, I don't blame the police, I don't blame nobody. It was his destiny and his fate, and now he's gone."

Long queues of friends and relatives waited outside the house to pay their respects as other family members spoke of the tragedy. Numbers increased in the early afternoon, in spite of the onset of rain which police hoped would deter a third night of violence.

In Leicester, a group of up to 100 youths attacked shops and threw items at police, with 13 arrests.

In London, armed with swords and hockey sticks, over 700 Sikhs took to the streets last night to protect the Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara in Southall as the police were stretched to maintain law and order on the streets of London.

Local vigilante groups have been formed in various areas in London to protect homes and business establishments that have been vandalised by rioters - mainly of Afro-Caribbean origin - in London over the past four days.

Cameron said he would make a statement in the Parliament tomorrow as it meets for a day-long session to discuss the conflagration that has blighted Britain's image and raised questions over the security for next year's Olympics.

In London where increased police presence brought back calm, a Downing Street spokesperson said the higher police numbers and tough police tactics last night had clearly worked.

"There's a will to continue with that level of policing for as long as is needed."

The strength of police in London was increased from 6,000 to 16,000 with orders to deal with any incidence of rioting and violence in a tough manner. London wore a deserted look from last evening with offices and shops closed earlier than usual.

A total of 770 people have been arrested and 167 charged, with 81 held last night.

There were indications that the government will reverse its decision to cut police budget that would have meant lower number of police officers on the streets of London. London mayor Boris Johnson said: "This is not a time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers."

PTI