LONDON: Three Pakistani men died Wednesday after being hit by a car during riots in the central English city of Birmingham, officials said, as witnesses said they died while trying to protect their community from looters.
Police said they had arrested a man and launched a murder inquiry after the incident which happened at around 1:00 am as Britain’s second largest city suffered from another night of riots. Paramedics said they found around 80 people at the scene after the men were hit by the car. Two of the men were pronounced dead on the spot and the third died later in hospital. The three Pakistanis have been identified as Haroon Hussain, Shehzad Hussain and Mussavir Ali. Two of the men were from Gujjar Khan, near Jhelum. Witnesses and family members said the victims were Asian men and were part of a group protecting the area from looting after local people had left a local mosque. “People came out of prayers and they were protecting the area. My friends were targeted, they were standing on the side of the road and the car just came and ran them over,” witness Kabir Khan Isakhel said. Another witness said the incident happened after a car was set ablaze in a nearby street and youths gathered, prompting local people to defend a local shopping area. “They lost their lives for other people, doing the job of the police,” Mohammed Shakiel said outside the hospital where the men were taken, prompting around 200 people to gather in support. “They were protecting the community as a whole.” Several cars drove past the group as it was guarding the stores 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, Shakiel said. Tariq Jahan, the father of Haroon Jahan, one of the men who died, told the BBC: “I’ve got no words to describe what, why he was taken and why this has happened.” “He was a very good lad, starting at the beginning of his life. He had his whole life ahead of him. It makes no sense why people are behaving like this and taking the lives of three innocent people.” Police said a 32-year-old man was being held on suspicion of murder. It said the victims were aged 20, 30 and 31. “West Midlands Police have launched a murder enquiry, arrested one man in connection with the incident and recovered a vehicle nearby which will be examined by forensics experts,” a police statement said. Britain has been hit by four nights of violent rioting. London was quieter on Tuesday night but the unrest spread to other cities including Manchester in the northwest and Birmingham.