Fears for a third night of asylum violence in Wales estate

Police in Wales were hoping that there would be no repeat last night of the violence which has shaken a Wrexham housing estate for the past two days.

So far seven people have been charged and seven people were still in custody following the violence on the Caia Park estate on the outskirts of the north Wales town.

The trouble began on Sunday night following a dispute between a group of Iraqi Kurd refugees and members of the local community.

The situation worsened on Monday night when a mob of nearly 200 clashed with police. Petrol bombs were thrown and a car was set alight.

North Wales Police had to call in support from the West Mercia and Merseyside forces to quell the troubles, in which four officers suffered minor injuries.

Police blamed a criminal mob for the second night of disorder, saying it was not caused by racism.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Curtis said: "What we saw last night was not racism, it was criminality pure and simple. The racial harmony here has been excellent to date." Mr Curtis said police had contingency plans in place to try to prevent trouble flaring again. A heavy police presence was visible in the area yesterday.

The estate, which dates back more than 50 years, houses around 30 to 40 refugees who have all been granted asylum and are legally allowed to work in Britain.

A Wrexham Borough Council spokesman said there were no asylum seekers on the estate who were waiting to have their cases heard.

Wrexham's mayor, Aled Roberts, said it was a very sad day for Caia Park, which has a population of 12,500.

He said: "Our challenge now is to deal with the issue of ignorance."

The mayor said he did not want people to be used as scapegoats for social problems in the area. `

Tempers were yesterday running high among members of the local community.

Outside a meeting for councillors, residents and police to discuss the problems, some residents said tensions with the Iraqi Kurds had been running high for some time.

Harriet Vine, 27, said: "It is the Government that is making us hate these refugees because of the preferential treatment they get." John Duffield, 36, said Iraqi refugees jumped the housing queue on the estate.

Councillor Dorothy Mitchell, vice chairwoman of the community council, said she was ashamed of some of the views expressed by the local community.

She said: "We work hard to keep this community going. Ignorance is the major problem,"

Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan said it was important not to focus much on the race factor initially suggested in connection with the riots.

He told a plenary session of the Welsh Assembly: "We do have to appeal for calm and ensure that the traditionally very good race relations of the Wrexham area do continue

despite the flare up, which I think was a surprise to everybody.

"There is no reason to overplay at this stage the alleged racial overtones.

"There does appear to have been some kind of incident which it set off but frequently what sets it off is rumours relating to the incident rather than the incident itself."

Any refugees who were too frightened to return to their homes on the estate have been temporarily rehoused.

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