Police in Sydney expect more violence over the weekend following the race riots that rocked southern beachside suburbs for two days this week, a state government minister said Wednesday.
New South Wales Police Minister Carl Scully was speaking after more than 400 officers maintained calm overnight in the suburbs hit by earlier rioting. Police stopped and checked hundreds of cars and arrested five men for carrying weapons.
However, authorities were investigating whether a fire in the early hours of Wednesday at a Protestant church hall in a Sydney neighborhood with a large Middle Eastern population was linked to the unrest. Another church nearby also had several windows smashed overnight.
Scully said more telephone text messages inciting violence were circulating in Sydney and other Australian cities.
He said police were investigating the new text messages, similar to ones last week that led to a mob of 5,000 white Australians, including pockets of Neo Nazis, gathering at Cronulla beach in southern Sydney and attacking police, paramedics and people of Middle Eastern appearance.
Youths of Middle Eastern appearance responded with a rash of attacks on people and property Sunday and Monday night.
Nearly 40 people have been injured and 27 arrested.