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Race rioters battle police in UK

riot police
Hundreds of police confronted the rioters  

LONDON, England -- Riot police battled overnight to contain violent clashes in north-west England sparked by racial tension.

At the height of the violence, up to 2,000 youths threw firebombs and stones at charging riot police in Oldham, near Manchester, injuring 20 officers.

Saturday night fights between white and Asian youths took place in the Glodwick area -- home to the town's main Asian community.

Hundreds of riot police from around Greater Manchester were drafted in to quell the unrest. Seventeen people were arrested.

The violence appears to have been sparked by an attack on an Asian family by white youths earlier on Saturday.

A police spokesman said: "The situation follows fighting between white football fans and Asian youths. A small number of arrests have been made, a number of police vehicles have received minor damage and a small number of officers have received minor injuries.

"However the situation has been contained. Senior officers have met with local councillors and community leaders in an effort to restore order in the town."

Granville Ashworth, a security officer drinking in the Live And Let Live pub, said the attacks on the tavern came out of the blue.

"I was enjoying a quick pint when a mob of around 100 Asian lads came out of the bushes and started putting the windows through.

"A couple of them rushed in and were shouting racial abuse and all sorts. They started lashing out with bricks and bar stools, anything they could get their hands on.

"We were all ushered into a back room but they came back a second time and threw a petrol bomb through the window. It set fire to the curtains but I managed to pull them down and stamp them out.

"They did all the cars on the car park with bricks and they set fire to one or two. It was pretty frightening, we don't need this, we were just having a quiet drink and not harming anyone."

Outside the pub, a line of seven cars all had broken windows with one car completely burned out.

Oldham, which has a large ethnic minority population, hit the headlines in Britain earlier this year when a white pensioner said he had been attacked by a gang of Asian youths.

A 15-year-old Asian boy was later charged with racially-motivated assault.

The simmering tension runs so high that Home secretary Jack Straw earlier this month outlawed political marches.

On May 5, 16 people were arrested when the ultra-right wing National Front party defied the ban with a march.

• Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

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