August 9, 2011 - 11:08 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A wave of violence and looting raged across London and spread to three other major British cities on Tuesday, August 9, as authorities struggled to contain the country's worst unrest since race riots set the capital ablaze in the 1980s.
In London, groups of young people rampaged for a third straight night, setting buildings, vehicles and garbage dumps alight, looting stores and pelting police officers with bottles and fireworks. The spreading disorder was an unwelcome warning of the possibility of violence for leaders organizing the 2012 Summer Olympics in less than a year.
Authorities acknowledged that major new bouts of violence had badly stretching their resources.
The riots appeared to have little unifying cause - though some involved claimed to oppose sharp government spending cuts, which will slash welfare payments and cut tens of thousands of public sector jobs through 2015.
Others appeared attracted simply by the opportunity for violence. "Come join the fun," shouted one youth, racing along a street in the east London suburb of Hackney, where shops were attacked and cars torched.
Disorder flared throughout the night, from gritty suburbs along the capital's fringes to central London's famously posh Notting Hill neighborhood. London's Ambulance Service said it had treated 16 patients, of whom 15 were hospitalized. Police said 334 people had been arrested and 69 people charged with offenses, the Associated Press reported.
Violence first broke out late Saturday in the low-income, multiethnic district of Tottenham in north London, where outraged protesters demonstrated against the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four who was gunned down in disputed circumstances. The past year has seen mass protests against the tripling of student tuition fees and cuts to public sector pensions. In November, December and March, small groups broke away from large marches in London to loot.
The International Olympic Committee insisted it had confidence in British authorities. "Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC," spokesman Mark Adams said.