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Thursday, August 11, 2011
Three Muslims killed in UK as unrest spreads
By staff & agencies
Police in the British city of Birmingham have begun a murder probe following the deaths of two brothers and their friend who were mowed down by a car while they stood protecting their mosque and business in Birmingham during unrest early Wednesday.
Witnesses said the three Muslim men were trying to protect their community from looters when they were killed on the third night of trouble in Britain's second-biggest city.
The West Midlands Police, which oversees Birmingham, have arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of murder and recovered a car that is being examined by forensics experts, the force said in a statement. The suspect has not been charged.
“They were very worried the businesses and the mosque would be looted and destroyed,” a witness said.
A man, 26, died from a bullet wound in London on Tuesday. A fifth man is fighting for his life after being attacked.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to “fight back” as the country's worst strife in decades turned deadly.
Cameron declared war on the sickness of British society.
Haroon Jahan, a 21-year-old mechanic who was one of the three Muslim men killed, went out with other neighborhood residents to protect local stores from looters, his father, Tariq Jahan, told reporters on Wednesday.
“The guy who killed him drove directly into the crowd and killed three innocent guys,” said Mr. Jahan, who watched the accident take place from a distance of about 100 meters, The wall Street Journal reported. The incident took place at around 1 a.m. in the Winson Hill area of Birmingham.
Mr. Jahan said he ran to the scene and started helping one of the three men before realizing that his son was among the injured. With his face and hands covered in blood, Mr. Jahan turned around and started performing CPR on his son, but the effort failed.
“Everybody loved him in the community. Everybody knew him,” Mr. Jahan said. Two other men, both roughly aged 30, died in addition to Mr. Jahan's son, police said. The three victims died in the hospital.
British prime minister said “nothing is off the table” in the new measures to take on the “rioters”, and he said security chiefs had decided to authorize the use of water cannon for the first time in mainland Britain, if they are required.
Four days after a peaceful protest over the death of a black man, Mark Duggan, in Tottenham ended, the British leaders and media were still using the term to describe protesters as violent looters.
“We needed a fightback and a fightback is under way,” Cameron told a news conference outside 10 Downing Street after the second meeting of Britain's COBRA security committee in as many days.
“While they are not currently needed, we now have in place contingency plans for water cannon to be available at 24 hours' notice,” Cameron said after the riots spread from London to several other northern and central English cities.
British police were also already authorized to use “baton rounds” of plastic bullets, Cameron said.
He also revealed that police were in the process of arresting suspects based on CCTV images and said “phony human rights concerns” would not prevent police from detaining suspects.
“We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets,” Cameron said.
“It is all too clear that we have a big problem with gangs in our country. For too long there has been a lack of focus on the complete lack of respect shown by these groups of thugs.”
Water cannon have been used to deal with sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, but have never been turned against crowds in mainland Britain.
Although an extra 10,000 police in London on Tuesday night helped prevent a repeat of three nights of violence in the capital, looting and rioting broke out in Manchester, Birmingham and other cities in the Midlands.
Photo: Tariq Jahan holds a picture of his son Haroon Jahan after he was killed by a car along with two other Muslim men in Birmingham, central England. (Reuters photo)