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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 07:49 GMT
Sydney riots over Aborigine death
Sydney police inspect a burnt out car
A number of people have been arrested
More than 40 police officers have been injured in Sydney in a riot sparked by the death of an Aboriginal teenager.

Angry youths torched a railway station and pelted police with petrol bombs and lumps of concrete in the mainly Aborigine district of Redfern.

Thomas Hickey, 17, died after he was impaled on a metal fence when he fell off his bike. Police deny claims he was being chased by officers at the time.

There are to be three inquiries into the boy's death and the riot.

Four people have been arrested and charged over the riot, which lasted for nine hours. Police say they expect more arrests to follow.

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says this was the worst night of violence in Sydney for years, and will be a setback for race relations.

New South Wales State Premier Bob Carr said his government would launch inquiries into the incident to establish how the teenager died and whether there was any police involvement.


The three inquiries will be carried out by the state coroner, the police service and a public affairs watchdog.

Local anger

The riot broke out on Sunday night and continued into the early hours of Monday.

Police reinforcements wearing riot gear were drafted in from across Sydney to quell the violence.

Eight of the injured officers had to go to hospital.

"At this stage one officer was knocked out by a brick that was thrown through the air and a number of others have got broken limbs, legs," Assistant Commissioner Bob Waites told reporters.

At the height of the riots, some 100 people were said to have taken to the streets.

"They burnt out one vehicle and they in fact were throwing Molotov cocktails both at police and at Redfern railway station during the course of the riot," said Mr Waites.

Thomas Hickey's mother said her son was being pursued by police when he fell of his bike and became impaled on a metal fence.

The allegation is strongly denied by the police.

A local resident, identified only as Donna, told ABC radio that people were angry because they believed the police were responsible for the teenager's death.

"He was murdered. We've been down to look at the spot and everything and there's no sign, they cleaned it up that quick," she said.

One local community leader accused the police of harassing people who live in a rundown area of housing known as The Block.

"You could interview every Aboriginal kid down there that comes from The Block, and the majority will tell you to your face... that they've all been bashed by the police," said Lyle Munro.

The area is notorious for drug dealing, with heroin being sold openly in a local park.

The BBC's Phil Mercer
"This ugly night in Australia's biggest city, is a major setback for race relations"

In pictures: Sydney riots
16 Feb 04  |  Photo Gallery
Country profile: Australia
03 Jan 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Australia
04 Feb 04  |  Country profiles

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