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But the Guardian newspaper reported that the bullet in the radio was police-issue, indicating Duggan may not have fired at the officer.

Duggan’s family said they did not condone the violence, and politicians condemned attempts to use his death as an excuse for the riots.

There are signs of rising social tensions in Britain as the government slashes 80 billion pounds ($130 billion) from public spending by 2015 to reduce the huge deficit, swollen after Britain spent billions bailing out its foundering banks.

The past year has seen mass protests against the tripling of student tuition fees and cuts to public sector pensions. In November, December and March, small groups broke away from large marches in London to loot. In the most notorious episode, rioters attacked a Rolls-Royce carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla to a charity concert.

The full impact of spending cuts has yet to be felt, however, and the unemployment rate is stable — although it highest among youth, especially in areas like Tottenham.

Many locals dismissed socio-economic explanations for the riots.

“We are going to get people blaming the economy and what happened last week but that’s not the real reason this happened,” said Brixton resident Marilyn Moseley, 49. “It’s just an excuse for the young ones to come and rob shops.”

The riots caught British politicians by surprise. Many, including Prime Minister David Cameron, were on vacation abroad when they broke out. Cameron’s office said he had no plans to return early, although May — the government minister in charge of policing — cut short her vacation to return to London.

London Mayor Boris Johnson condemned the “utterly appalling” destruction, but was criticized for saying he would not return early from a family vacation. His spokesman later said Johnson was cutting the holiday short and would be back in London on Tuesday.

“People have lost their homes, businesses and livelihoods through mindless violence,” Johnson said in a statement.

For civic leaders and Olympic organizers, the violence was an unwelcome reminder of London’s volatility, less than a year before the city hosts the 2012 Games.

The International Olympic Committee said it had confidence in British authorities.

“Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC,” spokesman Mark Adams said. “It is, however, directly handled by the local authorities, as they know best what is appropriate and proportionate. We are confident they will do a good job in this domain.”

Images of buildings and vehicles in flames broadcast around the world were poor publicity for the city as it prepares to host the games.

“You can imagine how stretched the police would be if this were to occur during the Olympics,” said Tony Travers, a local government expert at the London School of Economics. “So I think this will create a worry within City Hall and the Home Office.

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