Singapore — The worst violence in 40 years struck Singapore late Sunday night as hundreds of South Asian workers rioted after becoming enraged over a fatal road accident.
Authorities have arrested 27 people over the violence that left 18 people injured and police vehicles burnt.
The disturbance started in the congested Little India district when a private bus hit and killed a 33-year-old Indian man, said police.
About 400 people began rioting, attacking the bus and then police vehicles as officers responded to the reports of a commotion.
Among the injured were 10 policemen, four defence staff, and the bus driver and conductor, but none were seriously hurt, said officials.
The 27 South Asian workers were arrested on rioting charges, which is punishable by up to seven year in jail plus caning.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issued a statement saying that “whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour.”
“We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law,” he said.
The rioters burned three police cars and an ambulance, while social media showed pictures and videos of police cars being overturned by a cheering mob, according to reports.
The situation was finally brought under control after the elite Special Operations Command and Gurkhas working for the police arrived at the scene.
It was a rare outbreak of public disorder in the strictly governed city-state in an area normally packed with thousands of workers from the Indian subcontinent on their off day.
“Let me say that the incident that happened last night is intolerable. Rioting, destruction of property, it is not the Singapore way,” said Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee at an early Monday morning news conference.
It was reportedly the first riot to hit Singapore since 1969 racial disturbances.
Online attacks against foreign workers were immediately triggered by the violent rioting, but officials called for calm and warned against speculation.