Three Men Killed in Birmingham Riots

Three men were killed in Birmingham as the UK suffered its fourth night of rioting and disorder.

Police cordone off Bull Street in Birmingham. Photo: I Am Birmingham/Flickr.

Police have launched a murder inquiry in response to the incident which happened around 1am in Winson Green, Birmingham. West Midlands police, in a statement released on Wednesday said “Two men have died following a road traffic collision in the Winson Green area of Birmingham which detectives are treating as murder.

“Three men were taken to hospital where two subsequently died from their injuries. A third male remains in a critical condition. “West Midlands Police have launched a murder inquiry, arrested one man in connection with the incident and recovered a vehicle from near the scene which will be examined by forensics experts.”

According to Press Association the victims, who were aged between 20 and 31, were part of a group of men who had gathered in the local area to protect shops used by all sections of the local community.

The 34-year-old carpenter Mohammed Shakie,l who was the witness if the tragedy, said: “We got a call that there had been a car that had been set alight and a group of youths had moved further up the road.

“They put the fire out but there were still yobs on the street – they had no agenda other than simple stealing.”

Several cars then drove past the group which was guarding local stores, Mr Shakiel said, and the occupants shouted abuse before one vehicle returned and mounted the pavement at “tremendous speed” and hit the men, throwing them into the air. According to witnesses, the car, containing up to four men, then sped off.

Mr Shakiel said of the victims: “They lost their lives for other people, doing the job of the police. They weren’t standing outside a mosque, a temple, a synagogue or a church – they were standing outside shops where everybody goes. They were protecting the community as a whole,” Press Association reported.

The tragedy comes after the violence, which began in north London on Saturday evening, spread to the north. There was disorder in Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Bristol, Gloucester, Salford and West Bromwich all

There was widespread looting and vandalism in Manchester, and a police station in Nottingham was firebombed.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is going to meet with his crisis-response committee again on Wednesday after a fourth night of violence hit cities around England, although a huge police deployment helped restore order to the capital.

Cameron, who cut short his vacation in Italy to respond to the crisis, recalled lawmakers from their summer break for a meeting of Parliament on Thursday.

“And I have this very clear message to those people who are responsible for this wrongdoing and criminality: you will feel the full force of the law and if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment,” Cameron said.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service has arrested 770 people in connection with violence, disorder and looting, it reported early Wednesday. Authorities have charged 167 people with crimes.

In London, 111 police officers and five police dogs have been reported injured, according to a Metropolitan Police statement Tuesday.

The events are “gratuitous, senseless and wholly unjustified acts of wanton criminality,” said Nottinghamshire Assistant Chief Constable Paul Scarrott, who led the police operation.

“Many officers are still undergoing hospital treatment, some requiring surgery,” he said. “Injuries range from fractured bones, serious head injuries, concussion, cuts and sprains, even injured eyes from smashed and thrown glass.”

Taxi driver Mohammed Nasar said the people he saw roaming the streets were young. “What we call in the UK, hoodies,” he said. “People are not happy with them at all, because… this wasn’t a kind of planned demonstration,” Nasar said. “This was vandalism, hooliganism. This was robbery basically.”

It is known that the looters used social networks and BlackBerries to coordinate their actions. Research in Motion’s Inside BlackBerry blog was hacked on Tuesday after the Canadian smartphone maker suggested it would cooperate with London police to help identify rioters who may have used a BlackBerry messenging service to plan mayhem.

A hacking group calling itself TeaMp0isoN took credit for the attack, which involved posting a statement on the BlackBerry blog before RIM removed it.

“Dear Rim; You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all,” the statement read in part. It then threatened to make public a database of RIM employees’ personal information.

Security blogger Graham Cluley said Tuesday it wasn’t clear whether the hackers managed to post on BlackBerry’s blog because of a software vulnerability or because one of their administrators had his password cracked.

The hack followed a statement Monday night on UK BlackBerry’s Twitter feed that said, “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.” [via Huffpost, The Telegraph and CNN]

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