Arson attack on Asian shop

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The Independent Online
A GANG of white youths set fire to a halal butcher's shop last night on the estate where a white boy was murdered by an Asian gang last Saturday.

Tension was mounting in the King's Cross area of north London as a shrine sprang up at the scene where Richard Everitt, 15, was stabbed. By the early hours of today there were no reports of fighting between young people from the mixed Regent's Park and predominantly white Somers Town estates, but the attack on the halal shop threatened to highlight the racial divide even further.

The Al Amin halal butchers and grocery store was attacked shortly after 11pm. The remains of a firebomb were found in a letterbox. Fire chiefs suspect arson.

Anwar Khan, 34, the shop's owner, said residents of Crowndale Road reported seeing a group of white youths launching the attack. 'I was told a group of white boys aged around 15 or 16 years old set fire to the shop,' he said. 'This isn't the first time they have picked on me for being Asian. Last week they tried to break in through the back door and they're always walking past swearing at me and shouting: 'Paki go home'.'

Firefighters were called after residents reported seeing smoke pouring from the rear of the shop, but it was some time before they were able to douse the flames because they had to tear down protective metal shutters. A youth was led away by police at the scene but continued to protest his innocence.

Joy Choudhury, 29, who lives nearby, said: 'This is probably racially motivated because the white person was killed at the weekend. It's obviously a reprisal. We're all very worried to go out at night. They say 10 or 11 Asians killed the white boy but now the whole community is becoming involved.' The spot where Richard died, near King's Cross station, was littered with bouquets yesterday, although it too had become a platform on which some displayed racial prejudice.

In a spirit of reconciliation there was a bouquet from the Bengali Workers' Association, while a white wreath bore the message: 'Victim of the multiracial experiment. Shame on them.'

White youths at the scene predicted revenge attacks on Asians. Billy Jarvis, 17, of Ampthill Square, said he was attacked and stabbed by Asian youths two weeks ago. 'There's a lot of bad feeling on both sides and it won't subside on this side until we've had revenge,' he said.

Another man, named only as John, 21, also displayed a stab injury to his arm and said: 'It's happening all the time. The feeling on the street is very tense, but word has it nothing serious will happen until Richard has been buried.'

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