Riot breaks out in Little India

SINGAPORE - A riot, involving about 400 people, broke out in Little India on Sunday night after a fatal accident involving an Indian national and a private bus.

The angry crowd turned unruly after a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulance and police showed up to attend to the case.

It is not clear what caused the crowd to turn violent. At least four police patrol cars were overturned by the mob, including those of police reinforcements that arrived shortly after the violence broke out. An ambulance and two patrol cars were also set on fire.

The police in a statement on Sunday night confirmed that a riot had occurred at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road at 9.23pm.

"Police officers are at the scene and are in control of the situation," said the spokesman. Ten police officers were injured, he added.

At least five vehicle loads of officers from the police Special Operations Command (SOC) and Gurkha Contingent, clad in riot gear, were also at the scene to control the mob.

Residents The Straits Times spoke to said some of the people in the mob had come from a coffee shop at the junction of Race Course Road and Chander Road.

"I heard crowds cheering and shouting, and when I looked out of my window, I saw them surrounding two police patrol cars that were overturned," said a resident of Block 661 who declined to be named.

Said Mr Rohit Sodhi, 25, a service staff member at the Jungle Tandoor Restaurant: "I heard what sounded like bombs going off. Three times. Then I saw a huge mob running towards my restaurant and down Upper Dickson Road. The police chased them."

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Two police patrol cars and an ambulance were still ablaze when The Straits Times arrived at the scene. The burning vehicles triggered two explosions before SCDF firefighters arrived.

The windscreens and windows of a Traffic Police Expressway patrol car, a fifth police patrol car and an ambulance were also smashed.

Projectiles were thrown at the SCDF rescuers while they were extricating the body of the dead worker.

A total of nine SCDF vehicles were damaged in the incident, said the SCDF spokesman.

The mob had already dispersed at about midnight, but SOC officers were still seen scouring the vicinity. Police did not reveal whether any arrests had been made. The riot left the street strewn with debris, including uprooted plants and broken glass.

Firefighters were still seen at about midnight putting out the flames that had engulfed the emergency vehicles. The bus involved in the accident was also still at the scene. There was no sign of the driver at the scene.

Investigations are ongoing.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "This is a serious incident which has resulted in injuries and damage to public property. The situation is now under control. Police will spare no efforts to apprehend the subjects involved in the riot."

franchan@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Walter Sim, Lim Yan Liang, Joyce Lim, Kash Cheong and Lai Han-Wei


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