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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Arrests over Afghan attack
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm in connection with a racist attack that left a 28-year-old Afghan taxi driver paralysed.

During the attack early on Sunday morning in Twickenham, police believe remarks were made about the atrocities in the US.

The victim, who lives in Acton, west London, had picked up three men and a woman in the area before dropping them off in Twickenham on Sunday.

London can have no truck with any racial attacks against our Muslim population

Ken Livingstone
London mayor
Police officers found the 28-year-old man shortly after 0300BST outside the Prince Blucher pub on The Green, Twickenham.

He was taken with serious injuries by ambulance to West Middlesex Hospital, where his condition deteriorated.

The victim was transferred to Charing Cross Hospital where he is currently stable in the high dependency unit.

He was paralysed from the neck down.

Police believe the victim had picked up the customers in a blue VW Golf with the registration number N869 UJB and had dropped them off in the Staines Road area of Twickenham.

Racial abuse

They think the incident may have stemmed from a dispute over the fare.

The victim was hit over the head with a bottle, kicked and racially abused as he lay on the ground.

Police have warned they will not tolerate "revenge attacks" on Afghans or Muslims.

An attack on an Asian woman in Swindon is also being connected to anger about the atrocities in the US.

Racist abuse or harassment could potentially lead to disorder which wouldn't help anyone

Sir John Stevens
Metropolitan Police
The 19-year-old victim was treated in hospital after being repeatedly hit around the head with a baseball bat.

A "suspect" blaze at the Alvia mosque on Bromwich Street in Bolton, Greater Manchester, left windows smashed and follows graffiti attacks at other mosques.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said officers were ready to prevent and deal with vigilante attacks.

"The Metropolitan Police is extremely mindful of the possibility of heightened community tension.

"We are continuing to liase with potentially vulnerable groups and community leaders to increase security where necessary.

Community tension

"Racist abuse or harassment could potentially lead to disorder which wouldn't help anyone."

Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, which is home to more than half of the UK's Afghan population, also expressed concern at the potential violence.

He has written to Sir John asking to be kept informed about police plans to ensure the safety of Arab, Asian, Muslim, Sikh and other potentially vulnerable minority communities.

He has also asked to be kept informed about occurrence of such racial incidents.

Increased security

"Mayor Giuliani of New York made it clear in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Centre that any attacks against Muslims in his city would not be tolerated.

"Likewise, London can have no truck with any racial attacks against our Muslim population."

Meanwhile, police have been called to Manchester University after a known extremist group - said to be sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden - tried to hand out leaflets on the campus.

The National Union of Students has decided to ban Al Muhajiroun, who they fear will try to recruit supporters at universities.

Some universities have stepped up security as well as taking precautions to protect Muslim students after the increase in racial attacks.

The BBC's Andrew Bomford
reports on radical islamic groups in Britain

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See also:

17 Sep 01 | Americas
A community under siege
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