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Louts bring 'shame' to city streets

Police were faced with "extraordinary levels of violence" on the streets of Manchester and Salford from hundreds of criminals hell-bent on causing destruction.

Fire bombs were thrown at shops and windows were smashed as looters made off with designer clothes, expensive electrical items, jewellery, mobile phones and alcohol.

Youths - many wearing masks and hooded tops - marauded throughout Manchester city centre and Salford shopping precinct from about 5pm on Tuesday. Some of those running wild looked to be as young as nine or 10. On occasions youths could be seen talking to drivers of cars on mobile phones, exchanging information, while they drove around the streets in what appeared to be co-ordinated manoeuvres.

Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher's recently opened fashion boutique in King Street - Pretty Green - was one of dozens of stores that fell victim to the looters, while Miss Selfridge in Market Street was set alight.

At Salford Shopping City, just 200 yards from a large police station, evidence of the ferocity of the violence could be seen. Glass from shop windows and bus shelters littered the streets along with house bricks and rubble used to pelt riot police. Two cars, one believed to be a BBC radio car, lay over-turned and burnt out.

Firefighters came under attack from missile-throwing yobs as they attended incidents at Lidl supermarket in Jubilee Street, which was extensively damaged, and at several shop fires in Fitzwarren Street.

The chaos ensued for hours and calm was not largely restored in both locations until around 1am as a total of 108 arrests were made with officers from Northumbria, Staffordshire and North Wales assisting Greater Manchester Police.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police said: "This is nothing more than senseless violence with absolutely no regard for people, their property or livelihoods. These criminals have also attacked some of my officers and other emergency services who are simply trying to do their job to keep the public safe and restore order."

He said that offenders had been caught on CCTV and his message for them was "we will be coming for you".

Manchester City Council said the city would be open for business as usual today with a clean-up planned at Piccadilly Gardens from 9am. Councillor Pat Karney, the council's city centre spokesperson, said: "People in Manchester are very angry about what has happened in our city centre and it is time for us to stand together and say we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour."

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