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'War zone' on capital's streets

Terrified witnesses of the rioting have compared scenes to a war zone.

Onlookers in Peckham said they feared for their lives as people struggled to get through to emergency services by phone.

Police took more than five minutes to answer a 999 call placed by a witness who saw three youths break into a shop. Fireworks were thrown at police as they continued to disperse the crowd.

Elizabeth Bonner, 42, from central London, said: "It's shocking and very scary.

"The Government shouldn't cut down on the police numbers. There's old people around and they can't get home. It's not right."

Teacher Matthew Yeoland, 43, said: "There's been tension for a long time. The kids aren't happy. They hate the police."

One commuter from East Dulwich, who gave his name only as Jack, described the scene in Peckham as a "war zone".

He said: "I was on the 12 bus coming into Peckham and eight police vans streamed past. Then a load of people wearing bandannas went in the other direction and I saw a group of people standing around a petrol container.

"The bus stopped and there was loads of screaming and shouting. I looked out of the window and there was a bunch of lads who were pushing a big industrial bin towards our bus. It crashed into the side and the window shattered. There was a few people crying. The driver didn't want to open the doors but a few people forced them open so they could get out."

He added: "Outside the fire station there was a bus on fire. There was thick smoke everywhere. It looked like a war zone."

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