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More arrests in UK race riot town

A heavy police presence prevented a third night of riots
A heavy police presence prevented a third night of riots  

OLDHAM, England -- Police have arrested 21 people after a night of sporadic violence on the streets of Oldham, Greater Manchester police said.

There were a series of minor disturbances in the town on Monday evening and overnight, but a huge police presence prevented a third night of race riots.

Eighteen white youths and three Asian youths were held on suspicion of public order offences, affray and possession of an offensive weapon.

Two pubs in the town centre were damaged and a number of cars and other property were vandalised, a police spokeswoman told the Press Association.


CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney: Police prevent more violence

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At one stage, youths created a burning barricade by emptying bins and setting rubbish alight and one road was blocked by eight police vans and riot police in a tense stand-off with a gang of white men.

Oldham has seen some of the worst race-related violence in Britain for 15 years and police said there would be no scaling down of its presence on the streets, or of its zero tolerance policy.

On Saturday night a 500-strong mob of Asian youths went on a seven-hour rampage hurling petrol bombs and bricks at police in what one senior officer described as a night of "ferocity and sheer carnage."

A total of 15 police officers were injured and 17 people were arrested.

On Sunday night there was further sporadic fighting across the town as gangs of youths hurled more petrol bombs and erected burning barricades of tyres and furniture.

Rioters firebombed the local newspaper offices
Rioters firebombed the local newspaper offices  

Police and council officials said activity by right-wing extremists had stirred up racial tensions in the town.

But the police has been criticised by some members of the local Asian community for their "heavy-handed" dispersal of Asian youths over the weekend.

Members of the far-right groups, the National Front and the British National Party (BNP) members are handing out leaflets in the town and attempting to recruit and attract voters for next week's general election, chief superintendent Eric Hewitt, who heads the Oldham division of Greater Manchester Police said.

He added: "To reduce the fear since this started, we have had a massive police presence in our Asian communities and in the town centre to reassure people that the police will protect them.

"We are talking about over 500 police officers and we have protected them."

The BNP are fielding candidates in all three local parliamentary constituencies in the June 7 election.

• Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council
• Greater Manchester Police
• The Oldham Chronicle

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