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Tuesday, 24 April, 2001, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
War veteran in 'racist' attack
Walter Chamberlain
Walter Chamberlain is awaiting surgery for his injuries
A reward for more than 13,000 is being offered to help catch a group of Asian youths suspected of injuring a war veteran in a racially-motivated attack.

Former bus conductor Walter Chamberlain, 76, was walking home from a rugby match on Saturday through a predominantly Asian area of Oldham when he was set upon.

The pensioner, now awaiting surgery for several fractured bones, was pushed to the ground - and possibly struck in the face. Police are looking for three Asian youths who they believe were involved.

Greater Manchester Police Authority has offered a 10,000 reward, a local business has offered 3,000 and an Asian taxi driver has pledged 150 to help bring the attackers to justice.


This was an outrageous attack and the whole of the Asian community has condemned it

Local councillor Abdul Jabbar
Police figures show a record number of racist attacks in the area - out of 572 reported cases last year, 60% of the victims were white - and detectives are investigating a total of three racially-motivated incidents during last weekend.

Last week an Asian youth told a BBC investigations team that "no-go zones" for white people were being created because police were failing to respond to attacks on their communities.

Language barriers

Ruth Fairhurst, assistant director of policy at Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, said a zero-tolerance approach would be adopted by both council officials and police.

She denied there were "no-go areas" for whites in Oldham and said there was a spirit of co-existence amongst the majority of the community and it was a small minority of youths who were giving the district a very bad name.

She said much of the violence was caused by poverty, social disadvantage and a high percentage of young males in the area - problems currently being looked into by the council and the police.

A police spokeswoman also dismissed the notion of "no-go zones" but said: "We are investigating a number of racist attacks which took place over the weekend in the Oldham and Chadderton areas.

"On Saturday a 76-year-old local man was walking along an access road when he was approached by an Asian male who demanded to know his address.

"The aggrieved refused and was then pushed by the offender and received facial injuries."

'Outrageous attack'

Local councillor Abdul Jabbar said: "This was an outrageous attack and the whole of the Asian community has condemned it.

"It's a very small minority of people who are doing this and we condemn it totally and I don't think it's got any place in a civilised society in the 21st Century."

Mr Jabbar said the high number of white victims was very concerning but he stressed many Asian people who had been victims of racial attacks had failed to report their injuries due to language barriers and lack of confidence.

Mr Chamberlain, who took part in World War Two's D-Day landings and served on minesweepers during his time with the Royal Navy, is due to undergo surgery on several fractured facial bones this week.

Since the attack the British Nationalist Party has indicated it will now be putting forward candidates in the forthcoming election for both wards in Oldham rather than just one as previously planned.

Police are also investigating an attack on an Asian taxi driver's car by a white passenger in Fitton Hill on Saturday and the stabbing of 15-year-old Asad Zulfuquar who was set upon by 11 white males on Saturday.

A 15-year-old from Werneth has been charged with affray and assault and will appear at Oldham Magistrates Court on Friday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"The tension is real and both communities are suffering"
The BBC's Barnie Choudhury
"A minority of Asian youths want to create a no-whites area"
Oldham Council, Chris Hillier
"There are no no-go areas in Oldham"
Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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