Nine injured in ‘appalling’ violence at cycle festival in Manchester

Nine people have been injured after “appalling” violence broke out at a cycling festival in Manchester, police have said.

Hundreds of people were attending the Eritrean Cycle Festival at the Curzon Ashton football stadium near Ashton Cricket Club, Greater Manchester, on Saturday afternoon.

The two-day event featured singing, dancing and appearances from former Olympic cyclists.

But the festivities were disrupted when around 30 protesters stormed the stadium, throwing bottles, food and beer kegs.

Eight men were arrested on suspicion of public order offences. They were taken into custody and questioned.

They are thought to have been protesting against the Eritrean government, but organisers said the festival was not a political event.

Two teenagers were among those who sustained minor injuries, police said.

“The vast majority of people attending the event today were innocent people, including children, who sadly got caught in the middle of this appalling act of violence,” Chief Inspector Andy Harty, from Greater Manchester Police’s Tameside borough, said.

“Following the fast work of officers a number of men were arrested at the scene and we will continue to question them as this investigation progresses.

“However, we are still in the very early stages of enquiries and we are keen to hear from anyone who witnessed this incident.

“In particular we would like people to come forward with phone or dash-cam footage that could be vital to finding all those responsible.”

Organiser Goitom Seyoum, 48, told the BBC the festival did not have any political purpose, adding: ”It was a peaceful protest at first and then they barged in throwing bottles, food and beer kegs.

“It was outrageous – there were children in buggies and people cut and bleeding.”

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