December 12, 2005

Sydney hit by second night of race violence

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A second night of unrest in Australia's
biggest city Sydney left seven people injured and dozens of
cars damaged in apparent reprisal for racial violence on a city
beach at the weekend, police said on Tuesday.

Gangs of youths, mainly Muslim and from Middle East
backgrounds, attacked several people with baseball bats,
vandalised cars and had running skirmishes with police, they

At one beach, Maroubra, police said they found 30 Molotov
cocktails and crates of rocks stockpiled on rooftops along the
beach's main road.

"Eleven men were arrested and seven people, including a
police officer, were injured in a second night of unrest,"
police said on Tuesday.

Racial violence erupted at Sydney's Cronulla Beach on
Sunday when some 5,000 people, some yelling racist chants,
attacked youths of Middle Eastern background.

Drunk and angry mobs of youths, some wrapped in Australian
flags, said they were defending their beach after lifesavers
were attacked there last week. They believe the attackers were
of Lebanese background.

Police said white supremacists had incited the Cronulla
crowd to violence.

Sydney's Lebanese youths struck back on Sunday night,
smashing cars, assaulting people and fighting police in several
different suburbs.

On Monday night hundreds of Muslims staged an angry
standoff with police outside Sydney's main mosque at Lakemba in
the city's western suburbs.

Up to 25 cars with youths then drove to Cronulla and used
baseball bats to damage cars and smash windows, police said.

One man suffered head injuries after being attacked at a
youth hostel, while another suffered broken ribs and head
injuries after he was attacked while putting out his garbage

Local media reported that mobile telephone text messages
circulating amongst Muslim youths were calling for payback for
the violence on Sunday.

At Maroubra Beach in the city's east hundreds of local
surfers gathered, angry that Muslim youths raided their beach
on Sunday night, vandalizing some 10 cars and attacking people.

Police said a sweep of the beach's main road uncovered more
than 30 home-made petrol bombs and crates of rocks stockpiled.

Prime Minister John Howard has called for ethnic and
religious tolerance and stressed that Australia was not a
racist nation.