The riots started Saturday afternoon in Tottenham, an area in Northeast London, following a gathering of around 200 protesters who were demanding answers over the shooting death of a dark-skinned man by police under suspicious circumstances. 12 hours later a full-scale riot was in progress with violence and looting spreading across north-London suburbs.
The rioting is the most extensive Londoners have seen since the 1980`s race riots, with scores of fires and skirmishes spreading across the city over the last three days. At least 525 people have been arrested since the violence started. The rioters appear to be in their early 20`s or younger, police report the youngest arrested was 11-year-old. There have been dozens of serious injuries. A 26-year old man shot in a car in Croydon is reportedly the first fatality, but police have not said whether he had been participating in the rioting or was a bystander.
The unrest has spread to the cities of Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol and Nottingham.
Britain`s Prime Minister David Cameron, who cut short his vacation in Italy to take charge of the situation, stood outside 10 Downing Street and said lawmakers would be called back from their summer recess for one day on Thursday to enable Parliament to assess the situation. All police leave had been canceled, he said, and the number of officers on the streets would be increased to 16,000 on Wednesday night from 6,000 on Tuesday.` “People should be in no doubt that we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain’s streets and to make them safe for the law-abiding,” he said.
The BBC and other British news organizations reported Tuesday that the police may be permitted to use rubber bullets for the first time as part of the government’s strengthened response to any resumption of the mayhem.