40 arrests over Tottenham riots


London was braced for more violence this evening after some of the worst riots seen in the capital for years which politicians blamed on thugs but which residents attributed to local tensions with police.

Rioters throwing petrol bombs rampaged overnight, setting police patrol cars, numerous buildings and a double-decker bus on fire.

"There is witter conversations that people are being asked to meet again down in Tottenham so we are all concerned but clearly we will be much better prepared this evening," Richard Barnes, London's deputy mayor, told BBC.

Police commander Adrian Hanstock said there was "a lot of ill-informed and inaccurate speculation on social media sites" that could inflame the situation.

"Should we receive any indication that there will be any further violence or offending, there is a robust policing plan in place and we will respond appropriately with the resources available to us," he said.

Police said 26 officers were injured as rioters bombarded them with missiles and bottles, looted buildings including banks, shops and council offices, and torched three patrol cars near Tottenham police station in north London.

The riots erupted after a street protest over the fatal shooting of a man by armed officers this week turned violent.

Residents said they were forced to flee their homes to escape the trouble as mounted police and riot officers on foot charged the crowd to push rioters back.

The Metropolitan Police faced questions about how the trouble had been allowed to escalate.

The disturbance was only finally brought under control this morning after hours of sporadic clashes. Buildings were still smouldering, bricks littered the roads and burglar alarms continued to ring out.

At a nearby retail park, electrical stores and mobile phone shops had been ransacked, with boxes for large plasma televisions discarded outside, along with CDs and glass from smashed windows.

"They have taken almost everything," said Saad Kamal (27), branch manager of retailer JD Sports said.

"Whatever is left is damaged."

Local member of parliament David Lammy said they did not know if everyone had escaped flats above shops that were gutted by fire. "A community that was already hurting has now had the heart ripped out of it," he told reporters.

Police and community leaders said the community had been horrified by what happened and appealed for calm amid fears that further rioting could break out or spread to other areas.

The trouble started last night following a peaceful demonstration over the shooting of Mark Duggan (29), who was killed after an exchange of gunfire with police on Thursday.

Duggan's death is now being investigated by the independent police watchdog.