Asian youths in battles with police; Petrol bombs and burning barricades during second night of riots in Bradford

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The Independent Online
MORE than a thousand Asian youths clashed with police in Bradford last night during the West Yorkshire city's second successive night of violence.

Cars were burned out, shops looted and petrol bombs, bricks and bottles were thrown as gangs of young men fought with more than 600 officers in full riot gear in the inner-city area of Manningham. Police dogs and an observation helicopter were brought in as running battles spread through side streets. Many arrests were made and a number of people were reported injured late last night.

Fighting erupted after the youths - some of whom were believed to have travelled from across Yorkshire - massed outside the Lawcroft Police Station, in Oak Lane, at 5pm. Earlier, Asian religious and community leaders had attempted to calm them after Friday night's pitched battles, which began with accusations that police had been heavy-handed in arresting two youths. Max Madden, Labour MP for Bradford West, also intervened yesterday to try to prevent more trouble. He said: "I am appealing to the local community to stay calm."

But an angry missile-throwing mob soon gathered along the length of the lane outside the police station, smashing windows and throwing petrol bombs. Furniture and pallets were dragged into the streets and burned as police tried to disperse the protesters. Arrests were made and at least one police officer and one youth were taken to hospital.

An eyewitness, Councillor Mohammed Ajeeb said: "There are ranks and ranks of police in full riot gear at one end of the street and youths at the other end facing them. It is a very,very sad situation. There has been trouble brewing for a number of weeks."

A West Yorkshire police spokesman said last night: "The situation is escalating with widespread sporadic outbreaks.."

The manager of a local pub, the Pile Bar, said: "There is a lot of shouting and chanting and they have set fire to a couple of cars. The pubs and businesses here have been surrounded by riot police but the police are outnumbered by at least two-to-one. I'm not going outside. It looks very nasty."

On Friday night, 10 people were arrested, 10 police vehicles damaged and three officers slightly hurt as around 60 youths went on the rampage, hurling missiles at police in riot gear and at motorists.

Violence had erupted on Oak Lane, at 9.30pm, when officers arrested two Asian youths, who were among a crowd of young people who had been asked to move on. One of the youths fled into a house; rioters claimed a girl carrying a baby had been hit and had her clothes torn when the arresting officers followed him.

Cars were torched, burning road blocks were set up, and police in riot gear were pelted with bricks and bottles.

Late on Friday night councillors and community leaders met police and officers were temporarily withdrawn in an attempt to calm the rioters, but further arson attacks followed and officers returned. Daybreak finally dispersed the youths, who had gathered outside the police station, which had been guarded by officers in riot gear.

After meeting police on Friday night, Councillor Rangzab, for the Toller Ward, said: "The police are totally responsible for this. I want a full investigation. The group gathered because it is alleged a young girl was assaulted by the police while making the arrest and the community is shocked by the heavy-handed attitude shown."

In the morning, a total of 10 Asians were charged with public order offences and released on police bail.

Insp Sarah Sidney said: "I am aware of the allegations that one of the officers hit the girl. I understand he didn't even touch her, but the rumours got blown out of all proportion.

"She put herself between the officer and the youth, but there was no contact."

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