More violence mars big match

Ten arrested as hundreds of English supporters clash with French riot police near World Cup stadium at Lens
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The Independent Online
RENEWED VIOLENCE andclashes between England football supporters and French police broke out yesterday in advance of England's vital World Cup fixture last night.

In Lens, where Englandplayed Colombia, there were about 10 arrests after hundreds of supporters were involved in disturbances with police close to the Felix Bollaert Stadium.

In Lille, about 25 miles away, there were also arrests as trouble erupted in the afternoon around the main railway station, a stopping point for the Eurostar. About 60 fans were involved in a number of glass-throwing incidents until riot police moved in to empty the bars around the station. At one point about 150 police, armed with tear gas and guns, sealed off the station.

The trouble yesterday afternoon followed skirmishes and violence in the early hours. The worst incident took place in the Belgian port of Ostend where 57 England supporters were arrested after running riot through the town. Another 28 were arrested in the capital, Brussels. Last night those arrested were awaiting expulsion to Britain while two were still being questioned by police.

At one point police dogs and water cannon were used to try and control the supporters during the violence in Ostend, which lasted for more than three hours. The supporters had arrived by Hovercraft and were due to be returned by the same means but the Hovercraft company, Hoverspeed, last night denied there had beenproblems earlier in the day.

John Smith, the company's commercial director, said: "There was absolutely no trouble at our terminals or on the vessel on the way to Ostend, but these guys appear to have gone haywire once they got to Belgium."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "There are no reports of any serious injury. The people involved appear to have disembarked from a ferry some time around midnight and having got drunk proceeded to cause trouble in the town."

At the same time as violence flared in Belgium there were about 40 arrests in Lille and Lens, mostly for drunken behaviour. Two "category C" hooligans arrested in Lille were expelled on Thursday night and a further three arrested were still being processed.

Yesterday afternoon's trouble appeared to involve only a small number of the 35,000 England supporters estimated to have arrived at Lens and Lille, most of whom did not have tickets for the game.

In Lens, about 300 chanting supporters were involved in violent scenes when up to 200 police came under a hail of bottles. In Lille, about 50 supporters threw glass at police and journalists after a day during which most had spent their time in bars drinking.