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The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"Burnley questions why the disturbances are occuring now"
 real 56k

The BBC's Dave Guest
"The disturbances came at the end of a tense weekend in Burnley"
 real 56k

Inspector John Clucas
"This has taken us a little by surprise"
 real 56k

Councillor Rafiq Malik, former mayor of Burnley
"Burnley has always enjoyed very good race relations"
 real 56k

Chris Daggett, editor of the Burnley Express
"There has been a bit of jealousy from other parts of the town after money has been invested into a certain area"
 real 28k

Monday, 25 June, 2001, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Race riot town in talks
Scenes from Burnely
Firefighters extinguish blazes in Burnley on Sunday night
Police are meeting community leaders in Burnley in an attempt to work out what sparked a weekend of inter-racial violence in the town.

The trouble reached its climax on Sunday night with more than 200 youths attacking shops, homes and vehicles. Seven people have been arrested.

Riot police managed to prevent direct confrontation between gangs of Asian and white youths but a Lancashire police spokesman admitted they were surprised at the scale of Sunday night's violence.

This has taken us a little by surprise

Inspector John Clucas
It was a marked escalation from minor disturbances on Saturday night, apparently sparked by white youths attacking an Asian taxi driver with a hammer the previous evening.

Burnley is about 20 miles from Oldham, scene of serious racial disturbances last month.

Community leaders said police were slow to respond to the incident in the early hours of Saturday morning, which sparked two hours of disturbances on Saturday night, when gangs pelted police with stones.

On Sunday night a large gang of white youths entered the largely Asian Stoneyholme estate apparently intent on violence.

Five cars were set on fire and a pub was firebombed.

Inspector John Clucas admitted: "This has taken us a little by surprise although we had an increased number of officers in the area.

"What we are doing now is working with members of the community and community leaders to find out what's caused this escalation and why these incidents took place and put things in place to prevent them happening again."

The deputy mayor of Burnley, Rafique Malik, said the clashes could not be compared with the recent racial violence in Oldham.

Pub in Burnley
The pub was targeted on Saturday and Sunday nights
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have an excellent history of race relations in Burnley.

"Generally speaking the communities in Burnley are very peaceful and non-racist.

"As far as Burnley's various communities are concerned they can only condemn the violence and arson that has gone on."

Police blamed

A spokeswoman for Lancashire police said they believed the disputes were "of a local nature and have not involved any outside influences".

Blame for the weekend's violence was initially put on police by Asian community leaders, who said it had taken 30 minutes for them to respond to Saturday's alleged attack on the taxi driver.

The minor disturbances that followed later the same day saw police pelted with missiles and a pub's windows smashed.

Generally speaking the communities in Burnley are very peaceful and non-racist.

Deputy Mayor Rafique Malik
Sunday remained mostly quiet during the day, apart from another taxi driver suffering minor facial injuries when a brick was hurled through his windscreen.

But tensions rose again in the evening, with an Asian newsagent's shop and cars set ablaze and other vehicles overturned.

A sex shop was firebombed by Asian youths - reportedly in retaliation for the attack on the newsagent, located in a white neighbourhood.

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See also:

15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'No no-go areas in Oldham'
25 Jun 01 | UK
In pictures: Burnley riots
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