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Foreigners Advised to Avoid London

London Riots - August 2011The world has been surprised and shocked at the rioting that has taken over London and spread into other British cities. Now foreign nations are advising their citizens to avoid visiting the British capital until the unrest subsides.

The rioting started on Saturday, following a peaceful protest planned by the family of 29-year-old Mark Duggan. This man was shot and killed by police last Thursday during a planned arrest. He was the passenger in a minicab that was halted in Ferry Lane. Police were shot at from inside the vehicle, and then they fired a couple of shots back shortly after. During the incident, an officer was injured, and the bullet was found lodged in his radio.

Duggan’s family set up the peaceful protest because they believe that something needs to be done…justice needs to be served. A family friend said that Duggan wasn’t a violent person and never hurt anyone, though he had been involved with some not-so-good things.

Although it first appeared that the rioting was started due to this death, government leaders believe the last few days of violence and looting aren’t related. Shops and other businesses are being vandalised, looted and set ablaze; vehicles on the streets are being smashed and burned; families are losing their homes and are afraid of their own neighbourhoods. British home secretary Theresa May says that over 450 people have been arrested in connection to the violence in London. Scotland Yard has reported that jail cells in the capital’s police stations are full and prisoners are being transported to neighbouring forces.

It’s because of this that foreign nations are urging their citizens to stay away, for the time being. Some of these countries include Germany, Italy, Russia, the Philippines and Kenya. Indian authorities are concerned for the nation’s cricket team, who were set to begin the third Test match against England on Wednesday in Birmingham.

The German foreign ministry said that travellers should exercise special caution and immediately retreat if they are confronted with disturbance. They should particularly follow advice from security forces and look to the media to stay informed about recent developments. With riots taking place in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool already, more outbreaks can’t be ruled out, it added.

The Italian foreign ministry said nationals visiting London should avoid crowds and stay informed with the developing situation. Text messages have been sent to citizens registered with the ministry and currently on holiday in the British capital, advising caution. The head of Confindustria Assotravel, the main tour industry association in Italy, says there were only a few people who have cancelled trips to Britain so far.

However, not all countries are really concerned about the rioting in London. For example, Iranian officials seem somewhat satisfied that one of the world’s leading cities is having trouble with looting and common violence. Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast is said to have urged the UK government to stop violently confronting protesters. He also called on human rights groups to be permitted to investigate the death of Duggan.

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