Bar shooting raises fear of Triad feud

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The Independent Online

The shooting of a Chinese man in a busy bar raised fears yesterday of a worsening criminal turf war between Triads and Chinese people-smuggling gangs.

The shooting of a Chinese man in a busy bar raised fears yesterday of a worsening criminal turf war between Triads and Chinese people-smuggling gangs.

Part of the main thoroughfare in London's Chinatown remained sealed off as forensic police officers made a finger-tip search of the BRB bar, where a gunman walked in and shot the 37-year-old man twice in the chest, at 5.10pm on Tuesday.

The long-haired assailant, who carried a handgun, escaped by disappearing into the crowds outside the bar in Gerrard Street. His victim staggered out of the bar and collapsed in the street, which is lined with restaurants and grocery stores.

Scotland Yard confirmed it was investigating a possible increase in gang violence in Chinatown, amid claims from community leaders of bitter competition between people smugglers from a groups called the Snakeheads and established Triads. Detective Chief Inspector Ken Bell, who is leading the investigation, said: "The use of a gun in such circumstances is always shocking and in this area very rare." He said that the gangs' weapons of choice were usually machetes or cleavers.

Police said they were looking for a Chinese man, aged 20 to 23, with long highlighted hair falling across his face. The suspect is about 5ft 10in tall. His victim died in hospital within two hours of the attack.

The Snakeheadsare mostly illegal immigrants from Fujian in south-eastern China and their numbers have expanded rapidly in the past decade. They are thought to be moving into areas such as drugs, protection rackets and illegal gambling,dominated previously by Triads led by the 14K and Wo Shing Wo gangs.

A senior Chinatown figure, who asked not to be named, said: "The dead man was known for being linked with the Snakeheads."