Singapore police have arrested 27 people following a riot involving South Asian workers in the 'Little India' shopping precinct here in the city-state's worst outbreak of violence in more than 40 years, following a fatal road accident that killed an Indian worker.
The trouble started after a private bus hit and killed Sakthivel Kuaravelu last night in 'Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break, police said.
At least 18 people, including 10 policemen, were injured in the rioting that involved some 400 people, they said.
Police have classified the case as one of "rioting with dangerous weapons" and arrested 27 South Asians in connection with the riot.
Kumaravelu, 33, was working here as a construction worker with Heng Hup Soon, a scaffolding company, for about two years, reported The Straits Times today.
His body was not decapitated as reported by some news outlets but he did suffer injuries to his face, it said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the riot was a very grave incident, and his government would spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law.
In a posting on his Facebook account, the Prime Minister also urged all Singaporeans to stay calm.
Addressing a press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean today said: "I want to make very clear that the government will not tolerate such lawless behaviour. I have asked the police to investigate the matter thoroughly and deal with all aspects of this incident and all persons involved strictly, firmly and fairly according to our law."
The government has emphasised that the incident was not pre-meditated but would be dealt with very seriously.
Police also said the bus driver, who was in hospital, has not been arrested but would assist in probing the accident.
Others injured included 10 police officers and four personnel from the Singapore Civil Defence Force. Some 300 police officers were deployed to the site after the riot.
The riot was quelled within two hours after it broke out, the Channel News Asia reported. Police had deployed the Special Operations Command and Gurkha Contingent to the scene.
The mob last night attacked police vehicles and ambulances. Five vehicles - an ambulance, three police cars and a motorcycle - were set on fire by the crowd.
Ng said: "Wanton violence, rioting, destruction of property, fighting the police is not the Singapore way and the police will spare no effort. First to identify, and then we will find and then we will arrest and then we will prosecute everyone who was involved in yesterday's violence.
"You can take that as a guarantee from the police and as assurance to all Singaporeans and also residents who live in Little India."
More arrests were expected in the coming days, according to media reports.
In light of this incident, authorities said extra attention will be paid to Little India, dormitories as well as areas of congregation, where such foreign workers are living or gathering.
This means more patrolling in that vicinity, according to media reports. It has been more than 40 years since Singapore witnessed a riot of this extent.
Several hundred thousands South Asians, mostly from India and Bangladesh, work in Singapore’s construction, services and industrial sectors.
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