An emergency session of the state parliament in Sydney, Australia, has approved greater powers for the police, after the city has been struck by racial and mob violence.
The New South Wales assembly decision means police will have more power to lock down trouble spots, confiscate vehicles and impose alcohol bans on risk areas. The maximum sentence for rioting has been increased from 10 years to 15 years.
State Premier Morris Iemma said the new laws were designed to protect the silent majority of law-abiding Australians from hoodlums.
Eleven people were arrested on Wednesday night, in posession of metal instruments, baseball bats and a knuckleduster, as more than 450 officers again patrolled Sydney's streets to counter the threat of more "smash and bash" attacks.
The violence which has scarred Sydney and tarnished its reputation erupted last weekend. A mob of 5,000 white youths, many of them drunk, descended on Sydney’s southern Cronulla Beach , fought a series of skirmishes with police and attacked people of Arab appearance.
The racial violence continued for three nights, escalating into retaliatory attacks and vandalism on churches.
Police are calling for calm following reports of text messages calling for retaliatory strikes this weekend. According to local media, more than 1,000 extra officers will be deployed in the suburbs of Sydney, AKI reports.
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