For the third straight day, violence and looting has left parts of London burning as the the police clashed with rioting youths. A number of buildings have been burned and shops looted and latest reports indicate that the riots have spread in other English cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, and Liverpool. The violence actually began on Saturday in Tottenham when a peaceful protest turned violent.

It appears that the violence was triggered by an incident involving a 29-year old black man who was shot dead last week. However, some blame the violence was caused by unemployment, police brutality, hooliganism, and opportunistic looting. Politicians and the police dismissed claims that social tensions were the root of the riots and insisted that they were the work of a criminal minority.

British Prime Minister David Cameron quickly flew home from his vacation in Italy to discuss the problem with acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Tim Godwin and Home Secretary Theresa May. A spokesman for the government said that Cameron has been monitoring the situation every hour while he was away.

The riots involved individuals from ethnically diverse backgrounds as well residents from north London suburbs who are predominantly Afro-Caribbean in origin. The riots on Saturday was sparked by the death of Mark Duggan, an alleged drug dealer and a cab driver, who has shot to death by police on Thursday while he was seated inside his cab.

Tottenham, a north London district, is the hardest hit area where according to residents the greedy youths were responsible for the looting. Authorities have cordoned off the area’s main shopping street after the effects of the burnt buildings are still evident.

The heavy police presence did not deter the looters and the youths and they even make use of their mobile phones and Twitter to get ahead of authorities. Scotland Yard said that an additional 1,700 officers have been deployed in London since Monday. The City of London Police and the British Transport Police have joined the effort to restore order in the capital and nine more police forces coming from different parts of Britain were called to provide support.

Tottenham was also witness to the same riots three decades ago. In 1985, the police stopped a man with Afro-Caribbean origin on suspicions of driving with tax disc – a document that British drivers should carry – that has been forged. Hours later authorities raided the home of the man’s mother, who collapsed and died as a result. There was a protest outside the Tottenham Police Station that turned ugly prompting the riots to escalate.