A rare riot broke out in Singapore's Little India neighbourhood last night, apparently after a Bangladeshi worker was hit and killed by a bus, a local television channel reported.

Channel News Asia showed dramatic pictures of burning vehicles and people attacking the windshield of a bus with sticks and garbage bins. It was not clear if anyone was injured in the rioting that began late in the evening.

Such violence is unheard of in Singapore, an orderly and modern city-state known for strict punishments and generally law-abiding citizens.

In a statement, police confirmed that rioting took place but gave no details. It only said police were on the scene in Little India, an area popular among Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Nepali expatriates. It has scores of restaurants, grocery shops and a mall selling food and other items for people from those countries. On Sundays, the area is especially crowded with South Asian workers.


A witness, Dharmendra Yadav, told Channel News Asia that at least two vehicles were on fire, and that rubbish and broken bottles were strewn on the streets. He said he and many others were in a nearby Hindu temple attending a wedding when temple officials received a call from the police asking that the gates be locked and the guests stay inside until given clearance by the police.

He said a short while later he heard a commotion in the street and bottles being thrown. "We heard explosions. We also heard warnings from riot police," he said.

The situation was eventually brought under control but the guests were still not allowed to leave the temple, he said.

Channel News Asia said the riot apparently started after a Bangladeshi worker was hit by a bus and killed. This could not be independently confirmed. No other details were available.