Monday, August 8, 2011

UK police arrest 200 as London riots continue

LONDON (AP) — Violence and looting spread to new areas of London on Monday — and to a second major British city — as police and politicians struggled to contain the disorder during a third day of rioting in the capital, which will host next summer's Olympic Games.

The worst unrest in London in decades saw buildings, cars and garbage dumbs set ablaze and police officers pelted with bottles and fireworks, as groups of young people and police clashed in neighborhoods across the capital.

In the nation's central city of Birmingham, dozens of people attacked stores in a main retail district — spreading the chaos beyond London for the first time since violence broke out on Saturday night.

As authorities struggled to keep pace with the unrest, Prime Minister David Cameron's office said he would cut short his summer vacation and convene a meeting of the government's crisis committee on Tuesday to lead the response to the escalating violence.

The violence began late Saturday in London's northern Tottenham district when a peaceful protest over the police's shooting of a suspect turned violent, leaving parts of the high street charred and its shops looted. But some have blamed the unrest on unemployment, insensitive policing and frustration across Britain over the government's austerity budget, which will bring deep cuts to social services and welfare payments.

On Monday evening, the rioting spread to at least four new areas of London.

In the Hackney area of east London, hundreds of youths attacked shops and set fire to cars. Thick smoke billowed from a main street in the Peckham district of south London, where a building was set ablaze along with a bus — which was not carrying passengers. Lines of cars were torched in nearby Lewisham and a building in Croydon, while police advised stores to close early in dozens of other neighborhoods.

"There is significant disorder breaking out in a number of our communities across London," Tim Godwin, the acting London police commissioner said in response to the spiraling violence — amid some demands for police to deploy water cannons to scatter the rioters.

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