Gang of up to 80 youths in stand-off moments before policewoman was dragged under car
The incident is thought to have been sparked by a disturbance at a local bonfire with reports some youths were carrying knives, crickets bats and a snooker cue
The youths - some brandishing weapons - were involved in a disturbance in Rochdale, thought to have been sparked by a disagreement at a bonfire, before the officer was injured while attempting to diffuse the situation.
Last night’s trouble involved two groups, thought to be aged between 14 and 17, including boys and girls, and witnesses saw a number carrying weapons, including knives, cricket bats and a snooker cue.
The two groups then made their way towards Yorkshire Street, where a huge stand-off took place, before the car which injured the officer arrived at around 9pm.
Councillor and restaurateur Farooq Ahmed witnessed the trouble and tried to disperse the gangs, suffering minor injuries in the tense deadlock.
“I had just been to a council meeting and was in my car when I saw the two gangs,” he said.
“I was really worried, especially when I noticed that some of them seemed to have weapons and I knew they weren’t local as I know all the local kids.
“I tried to speak to them and calm them down and someone elbowed me in the stomach at one point, I don’t think it was on purpose.
“They were all standing in the road and spilling out onto the side street. It was very scary for the local residents.
”During the stand-off, a dark-coloured five-door hatchback, carrying five Asian men, arrived at the scene and stopped at the centre of the action.
Shortly afterwards, police arrived, responding to 999 calls from Farooq and other witnesses, and one of the officers approached the car. When she got to the vehicle, it sped off, forcing the officer to cling to one of the car seats.
She was dragged 150 yards along the road and repeatedly punched in the face until she fell from the vehicle.
The officer remains in hospital, where she is being treated for serious bruising and shock.
Farooq saw the woman lying in the road and ran over to her before other officers arrived.
“My first thought was that she had been attacked, but she told me she had been hit by a car,” he said. “It was very frightening and I tried to calm her down.
“My wife has since told me I was silly to get involved and could have been hurt, but as a councillor I feel it is my duty to keep the peace.”
Police have since arrested three men - a 19-year old man and two 24-year old men - on suspicion of attempted murder. They have also recovered a car.
Det Chf Insp Andy Aston said: “We would like to reassure the public that this was an isolated incident and we are making good progress with the arrests.
“Our investigation is focusing not only on the car but on the disturbance earlier in the night and we would appeal to anyone who witnessed anything relevant to get in touch with us straight away.
“The officer involved is very shaken after what happened.”