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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 03:40 GMT
Uneasy calm after Sydney riots
Scene of rioting
Around 100 people are thought to have taken part in the riots
Peace has returned to the Australian city of Sydney following riots in a central Aboriginal district which left more than 40 police officers injured.

Community leaders had called for an end to the riots, sparked by the death of an Aboriginal teenager.

Three separate investigations into the disturbances have been launched.

Correspondents say Sunday night's violence was the worst in Sydney for years, and will be a setback for race relations in the city and beyond.

These kids feel a huge sense of injustice
Shane Phillips
Aboriginal elder
At least four people have been arrested and charged over the riot, which lasted for nine hours. Police say they expect more arrests to follow.

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

Pursuit allegation

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

REDFERN RIOTS

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

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 the height of the riots, some 100 people were said to have taken to the streets to protest against the death of 17-year-old Thomas Hickey.

His mother said he was being pursued by police when he fell off his bike and became impaled on a metal fence.

The allegation is strongly denied by the police.

A local elder said gloom had descended on The Block, a rundown area of housing where the rioting began.

"These kids, they have seen something like this happen, and they feel a huge sense of injustice," Shane Phillips told the Associated Press news agency.

"What people need to help them with is how to deal with it so it's not violent."

'Thugs'

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

I'd bring the bulldozers in because I think allowing this to happen every couple of years will never fix the problem
John Brogden
State opposition leader
New South Wales state opposition leader John Brogden accused the state government of ignoring the problem.

"The fact that 40 or 50 police were injured whilst they stood there and copped it from young Aboriginal thugs and others is an unacceptable position going forward," he said.

"I'd bring the bulldozers in because I think allowing this to happen every couple of years, which is what's going to happen, will never fix the problem."

Premier Bob Carr responded that The Block was in the process of being pulled down and plans for its re-development would be completed in the next few weeks.


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



SEE ALSO:
Sydney riots over Aborigine death
16 Feb 04  |  Asia-Pacific
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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