Race clash police accused of assault

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The Independent Online

Police are investigating claims that officers assaulted troublemakers during clashes between Asian youths and white football supporters in Oldham.

Police are investigating claims that officers assaulted troublemakers during clashes between Asian youths and white football supporters in Oldham. The disturbances before Saturday's match between Oldham Athletic and Stoke City broke out in an area of the town at the centre of recent racial tension.

Stoke fans chanted racist taunts as they made their way to the ground. Groups of Asian youths gathered in the area during the game, and violence erupted after the match when more than 100 officers in riot gear escorted Stoke fans away from the area.

Greater Manchester Police said some people at the disturbances claimed they were assaulted by officers. "Allegations by some of those present that they have been assaulted by police will be investigated," a spokesman said.

Extra officers were drafted in after it was learnt that known hooligans were heading for the Second Division game. About 10,000 fans travelled to the ground, which is in the middle of a Bangladeshi residential area, with many going through the predominantly Asian area of Westwood.

About 200 Bangladeshi youths began throwing bricks at the fans and two petrol bombs were hurled. Six police vehicles were damaged and three officers suffered minor injuries. A total of 20 people were arrested for public order offences including violent assaults.

Inspector Philip Haworth, of Greater Manchester Police, said football hooligans had deliberately set out to "exploit" the racial tension in the area, which has been in the spotlight after claims by Asian youths that they were creating "no-go areas" for whites.

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