Huge Police operation restores calm to riot city

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The Independent Online

A massive police operation restored calm to the streets of Bradford today after a weekend orgy of rioting.

More than 600 officers ­ drawn from seven forces ­ were drafted onto the city's streets in a bid to prevent a repeat of Saturday's violent scenes which left 164 police officers injured.

Chief Superintendent Stuart Hyde, of West Yorkshire police, said "a sense of normality" had been restored to Bradford ­ despite several isolated incidents of violence.

In one, an Asian restaurant was attacked by a gang of 30 white youths, but there was nothing on the scale of Saturday's disturbances.

Mr Hyde said: "The community has supported the police action and continue to condemn the criminal behaviour they have seen and heard in their city.

"Local people have also shown their support for the police presence and protection."

Mr Hyde said that during the serious disturbances on Saturday, 36 people were arrested of which 10 were charged and released on bail.

Twenty men were charged with offences, including violent disorder, and will appear before magistrates some time this week, he said.

Mr Hyde said the strong police presence on the streets of Bradford will continue throughout the week.

Trouble flared last night in the Greengates area of the city when a group of up to 30 white youths attacked the Asian restaurant and a petrol station with bricks and baseball bats.

The Bradford Arms pub in Manningham was also firebombed early today, West Yorkshire Police said. A force spokesman said no one was injured and local Asian residents helped put out the small blaze caused by the attack.

Elsewhere a gang of youths attack the Save Garage on New Line with bricks and stones before rushing inside to steal the till. Garage manager Khalid Mehmood said: "Two or three of them then ran into the shop and broke the windows on my freezers and took my till."

Moments later the gang started hurling bricks through the window of the nearby Kebabeesh Restaurant. Restaurant director Tayub Amjad, 20, said: "The attack went on for about 10 minutes ­ it was terrifying.

"Fortunately there were no customers in at the time, but it's caused thousands of pounds damage."

Police and civic leaders had appealed for calm after eight hours of violence in which gangs of Asian and white youths fought running battles with officers.

Rioters torched Manningham Labour Club and a BMW garage, destroying thousands of pounds of cars on the forecourt.

Two police horses were also injured, with one suffering stab wounds.

Tensions had flared on Saturday afternoon following a rally by the Anti Nazi League in Centenary Square in protest at a planned demonstration by National Front activists.

Home Secretary David Blunkett yesterday strongly condemned the rioters and suggested the police may need to be given additional powers to deal with such disturbances. He said the traditional, cautious approach of the British police meant outbreaks of violence may be more prolonged than in other countries where the police used water­cannon and other hardline measures.

"I am not actually keen myself on upping the ante. I am very keen on the way in which our police force operates as far as possible at the lowest level to maintain order," he told BBC Radio 4's The World this Weekend.

"But I am keen to examine any suggestions that are put forward in circumstances where people believe they can go on the streets, threaten others including the police, and believe they can get away with it."

Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour MP for Bradford South, said he would support the police being given access to water cannon if that was necessary.

"We spoke to the Home Secretary on Sunday morning, we will be seeing him again this evening, and that will be one of the issues that we put to him, that the police cannot be expected to control these situations with the equipment they have at the moment ...

"To control violence in the way that this was, they do need to have improved resources, and we will support that," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mr Sutcliffe added: "It is tragic ... but if it is a choice between death and destruction and people being controlled, then I favour the control. And if we can do that with water cannon, we need to do that."