LONDON - British Prime Minister
David Cameron was to hold crisis talks on Tuesday after three nights of riots,
looting and arson by masked, hooded youths that wrecked shopping streets in many
parts of London and spread to other cities.
Neighborhoods across the
capital faced a massive clean-up of smashed glass, bricks, bottles and gutted
buildings as police reinforcements reclaimed the streets from the
youths.RELATED:Police prepare for the worst as London riots continue
Politicians and police blamed the riots - the worst in Britain
for decades - on criminals and opportunistic hooligans.
But residents in
affected areas and some commentators attributed the unrest to local tensions and
anger over economic hardship in a city where the gap between the haves and
have-nots is growing.
The riots broke out amid deepening gloom in Britain,
with the economy struggling to grow while the government is imposing deep public
spending cuts and tax rises brought in to help eliminate a budget deficit that
peaked at more than 10 percent of GDP.
They will also show an ugly side
of London to the rest of the world less than a year before it hosts the 2012
Olympic Games, an event which organizers hope will showcase a dynamic,
prosperous and cosmopolitan city.
Police said they had arrested 334 people in London and
about 100 in Birmingham in the English Midlands. Violence also broke out in
Bristol in the southwest and the northwest port of Liverpool.
point, the London fire brigade said it was running out of vehicles to tackle
fires started by the rioters and police said they had called in 1,700
reinforcements to help London police cope with fast-moving groups of
Cameron broke off his holiday in Italy on Monday to fly home. He
was due to chair a meeting of Cobra, the government's crisis committee, to work
out a strategy to prevent more violence and consider why the riots broke out and
spread so fast, taking the authorities by surprise.
have blamed the rioting partly on cuts in social services being imposed as a
result of the government's tough austerity policies to reduce a large budget
deficit.Looters hail from areas of high unemployment
Many looters were from areas
of high unemployment and said they felt alienated from society.
youths in Hackney pushed burning rubbish bins down a street towards police on
Monday, laughing as they ran back when police charged them. Others smashed their
way into a shop and ran off clutching bottles of whisky and beer.
witnesses saw similar scenes in Woolwich, Clapham in the south and Ealing in the
west. In Ealing, one resident told Reuters about 150 hooded youths had walked
down his road smashing car windows in a display of "mindless
"It's very sad to see...But kids have got no work, no future
and the cuts have made it worse. These kids are from another generation to us
and they just don't care," said Hackney electrician Anthony Burns,
"You watch. It's only just begun."