Police condemn violence after rampage at Leeds music festival

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The Independent Culture

The "mindless violence" of youths who fought running battles with officers in riot gear at the Leeds Festival was condemned by police on Monday.

The "mindless violence" of youths who fought running battles with officers in riot gear at the Leeds Festival was condemned by police on Monday.

Officers were pelted with stones and other missiles as a hard core of about 30 rioters ­ supported by a crowd of 200 ­ rioted at a campsite at about 11.30pm on Sunday.

Nine arrests were made after three toilet blocks were set alight and cars damaged in four hours of violence, which ended after police reinforcements were called to the site at Temple Newsam. Yesterday West Yorkshire Police launched an investigation to identify the culprits. A spokeswoman said: "Police condemn the mindless violence and damage, which only succeeded in causing fear and alarm to innocent visitors to the event."

The trouble flared at the end of the three-day event, which hosted headline acts including Eminem, Marilyn Manson, the Manic Street Preachers and Travis.

Police said 200 crimes were committed during the event and 50 people were arrested for a variety of offences including violence and theft, drunkenness and possession of drugs.

The Reading Festival, which is "twinned" with the Leeds event and shares the same artists, was also overshadowed by serious crime.

Thames Valley Police were continuing their search yesterday for two men in connection with the alleged rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl at the festival site.

The victim was being comforted by her parents at home in Oxford, having been attacked in her tent on the festival site beside the Thames in the early hours of Sunday. The main suspect is described as white, aged between 20 and 27 years old, of medium build, and about 5ft7in tall. His alleged accomplice is described as black, in his mid-20s and of stocky build.

A spokesman for the organiser of the Reading Festival, Mean Fiddler, said it was "shocked and saddened" by the attack, which follows a serious assault on a teenage girl at the festival in 1999 and may prompt a review of security at next year's event.

Thames Valley Police said they made 80 arrests and charged 32 festival-goers, mainly for drug-related offences, at the Reading event, which attracted an estimated 135,000 music fans over three days, including thousands of campers.

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