BRADFORD, England -- Several people have been arrested and two have been stabbed during clashes between Asians and white people in another northern British town.
Riot police were called in to disperse crowds that had gathered in Centenary Square, in Bradford, on Saturday.
Chief Superintendent Phil Read condemned the violence and said officers were working to restore order.
Read told a press conference on Saturday evening that 18 people had been arrested and rejected allegations that police had dealt with the disorder in a heavy-handed manner.
He said: "Over the last four hours there have been sporadic but continuing outbreaks of disorder and violence involving predominantly young men.
"A number of people have been injured and there has been damage to shops and other properties in and around the city centre.
"We condemn violence from any quarter - there is no excuse for criminal behaviour.
"We have arrested 18 people so far -- 10 white men, a white woman and seven Asian men, mainly in connection with public order offences.
"Troublemakers, both local and from outside Bradford, appear determined to commit criminal acts despite the best efforts of the police, the council and responsible members of the community."
He added: "Inquiries have revealed at this stage that two white men have received knife injuries.
"One man suffered a slash wound to his back and the other received a stab wound to a leg."
UK Home Secretary David Blunkett last week banned a far-right National Front march planned in Bradford on Saturday.
The Anti-Nazi League also warned that it plans to hold a counter-demonstration.
Community leaders in Bradford, which has an Asian population of about 100,000, appealed for calm.
A police spokesman told the Press Association that despite the trouble, there had been no large turnout of National Front supporters, although five had been persuaded to turn back when they arrived at Bradford railway station.
Witnesses in the town centre said the trouble was sparked off after a group of white men came out of a city centre pub and began shouting racial insults.
It prompted a group of mainly Asian youths to charge up Westgate and a fight broke out which spilled into the neighbouring streets.
Tahir Hussein, 28, of Bradford, told the Press Association: "The whole thing has kicked off. Some white lads were calling us Pakis and it's all gone off from there.
"There's lots of youths running around the streets and the police seem to have lost control."
Riot police were pelted with bricks, stones and road signs when they moved in to try to restore order.
Trouble later flared in the Manningham area of Bradford.
Petrol bombs were thrown at police and burning barricades were set up in Whiteabbey Road as troublemakers were dispersed from the city centre.
Mounted police were brought into the area and the police helicopter hovered overhead as the violence continued.
Mohammed Mir, 29, of Manningham, told PA: "The police have just been too heavy-handed. The young lads have seen only Asians being arrested and they've reacted.
"What has gone on has been terrible but the police have only got themselves to blame.
"We heard that the National Front turned up and beat up an Asian lad and that's why the Asian lads kicked off.
"The police just handled it all wrong. They were dressed in riot gear and just hyped all the Asian lads up. If they left the area and let the leaders get on with it, it would all end."
Community leader Mohammed Riaz said the situation was out of control.
"What is happening here is terrible. Businesses are being attacked, cars are being set on fire and I cannot believe these scenes are taking place in a city in England.
"There's no logic to this. Where is the protest, where are the National Front?
"There is no justification for this -- they are setting back Bradford 10 years.
"Now is not the time but questions will have to be asked afterwards -- how have the police allowed a peaceful demonstration to disintegrate into this?"
In recent weeks there have been violent clashes in a number of northern towns, including Leeds, Burnley and Oldham.
Hearing about this for the last few months has been very disturbing. What the hell is wrong with these people? Is race really such a factor in this year of 2001? Heck, we're all immigrants if we look back to some point in time. I am feeling very ashamed of my British citizenship at this point.