Police and community leaders in Birmingham(England) have appealed for calm after a man was stabbed to death in disturbances in the Lozells area.

Three other people were stabbed, and a police officer was hit in the leg with a ball bearing fired from a gun.

The violence on Saturday is thought to have involved rival groups of youths.

Community leaders linked it to tensions in the past week over the alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old-girl although no offence has been reported.

The confrontation between rioters and police began on Saturday evening and saw cars burned, property damaged, missiles thrown and groups of people wearing masks, or covering their faces with hoods.

On Sunday, extra police were on the streets and a spokesman said it was "all quiet".

The disturbances broke out after a late afternoon public meeting at the New Testament Church of God over the alleged assault.

Two senior police officers, the Labour MP for Perry Barr, Khalid Mahmood, and church leaders had addressed the meeting.

Police say the violence was not a reaction to the meeting.

Extremist elements

Mr Mahmood said there appeared to be a link between the violence and the alleged assault but the "vast majority" of people who attended the meeting were satisfied with explanations given by himself and police.

I think the small number of people who were involved were predominantly from outside
Khalid Mahmood MP

Residents' fear at violence
In pictures: Clashes

The MP said the majority of the community was close.

"I think the small number of people who were involved were predominantly from outside," he said.

"Today is going to be an important day. We need to make sure no other people come in from the outside to escalate this tension."

Bishop Joe Aldred from the Council of Black Led-Churches appealed for calm in the area.

"There's a clear condemnation from me and others in this community of the violence that's happened," he added.

He said "extremist elements" in the community seemed intent on using the incident "for their own criminal aims".

He told BBC Radio Five Live there were also underlying community tensions.

"At the root of it are primarily young people, but not just young people, from the African and Caribbean community.

"Their anger seemed to be directed in the first place at elements of the Asian community because they feel that it's Asian men who are the butt of the allegations here."


Assistant Chief Constable David Shaw denounced the violence.

1745: Violence erupts outside a community meeting
1915: Police called out after two men stabbed. One man dies.
2115: A man is stabbed at Farcroft Hotel, Rookery Road
2130: Reports of a man being shot and another man being stabbed at the Uplands pub in Oxhill Road
2200: Police officer shot in thigh by ball bearing fired from gun

"I can't really begin to describe how our sense of sorrow that we have lost someone from our community, that innocent people in the area have been attacked and injured, and that one of our colleagues who was out there trying to protect the public has been shot," he said.

"Over many years I've worked very hard to make this part of Birmingham a better and better place to live.

"We haven't been affected by some of the tensions that other parts of the country have seen and we are in no sense complacent when we say that."

Police say its investigation into the alleged sexual assault has been held back because no official complaint has been made.

A police spokeswoman said the dead person - a black man in his 20s - would not be named until next of kin had been informed. A number of arrests have been made.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said at least 12 people had been taken to the City Hospital.

source: BBC