Triad turf war in Sydney's Chinatown
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Sydney's bustling Chinatown food and retail district has been shaken by a suspected Triad gang war over protection money paid by restaurant owners.
In a frantic 10-minute period Monday evening four restaurants were attacked by two gangs of masked youths wielding axes, mallets and chair legs.
The gangs smashed windows, fish tanks, mirrors and food cabinets and upturned tables, forcing customers to flee.
New South Wales police are now working with the South-East Asian Crime Unit to investigate the attacks, which are believed to be linked to a dispute between Hong Kong-based Triad criminal gangs.
City Central Local Area Commander, Glen Harrison, said police were viewing video footage but were appealing to the public for help.
He said police were investigating whether the attacks were part of an extortion attempt on business in the Chinatown area, which lies at the southern end of Sydney's central business district.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper reports that police intelligence believe the attack was the work of the "Big Circle" Triad gang muscling in on the protection racket of the larger Sing Wa organization.
Commander Harrison said police were aware of extortion attempts taking place in Chinatown but said it was "on a very low level."
"It is totally unacceptable for groups of young men to arm themselves with weapons, including mallets, wooden table legs and even an axe in these incidents," Harrison said.
"I am relieved that no one was injured in the attacks and we will use whatever resources are necessary to bring this investigation to a conclusion," he said.
Restaurant owners in Chinatown were reluctant to speak about the incident to CNN Wednesday, saying it was "business as usual" despite the attack.
All the damage at the four restaurants had been repaired and lunchtime trade seemed brisk despite the negative publicity.
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