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Dozens arrested in Singapore after foreign worker's death sparks riot

By Sophie Brown, CNN
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 0735 GMT (1535 HKT)
Firemen douse a charred ambulance and a car in the early hours of Monday, after a riot broke out among South Asian workers in Singapore.
Firemen douse a charred ambulance and a car in the early hours of Monday, after a riot broke out among South Asian workers in Singapore.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police arrest 27 people in Singapore after a worker's death sparks riots
  • An Indian national died after he was hit by a bus in the Little India district
  • It's the worst violence Singapore has seen in over 40 years

(CNN) -- Police have arrested 27 people in Singapore after a riot that erupted on Sunday after a foreign worker died in a traffic accident.

A crowd of more than 400 people hurled objects and set fire to vehicles in Singapore's Little India district on Sunday evening after a 33-year-old Indian man was run over by a private bus while crossing the road, the Singapore Police Force said in a statement.

At least 18 people -- including 10 police officers, as well as the bus driver and conductor -- were injured in the riot, which was the first major outbreak of violence in the country for more than 40 years.

It took some 300 police and special defense forces to bring the violence under control, according to Police Commissioner Ng Joo Hee.

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Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the riot as a "very grave incident."

"Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behavior," he said in a statement released on his official Facebook page.

"We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law," Lee said.

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Videos posted online appear to show men smashing the windscreen of the bus involved in the fatal accident. In other footage, black smoke is seen billowing from an overturned police car.

The mob reportedly attacked rescue crews as they attempted to reach the Indian worker's body, which was trapped under the bus, according to the Straits Times.

Migrant workers -- mainly from India and Bangladesh -- are known to gather in Little India on Sundays, which is typically their day off.

READ: Chinese bus drivers sentenced after going on strike in Singapore

Singapore has strict laws on public assembly and rioting on this scale has not been seen since 1969, when clashes between Chinese and Malay residents left 36 people dead and another 556 injured.

If convicted, the 27 men arrested in connection with Sunday's violence face up to seven years in prison and caning.

Police said the intersection where the accident occurred, had reopened on Monday morning.

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