Incident began after a protest over the fatal shooting of a young man by police on Thursday turned violent [AFP]

Angry crowds have attacked riot police in north London following a protest at the fatal shooting of a man by armed officers earlier in the week.

British police battled to restore order on Sunday as rioters went on the rampage in Tottenham, torching police cars, vans, a bus and buildings amid widespread looting.

Disorder spread after up to 200 people gathered near Tottenham police station on Saturday evening, following a protest over the fatal shooting of a man during an apparent exchange of gunfire with police officers.

Rioters torched two patrol cars, a bus and a shop outside the police station on the High Road in Tottenham, smashing up shop windows. One establishment was also on fire.

Local journalists at the scene spoke of widespread looting in the crowded area and spoke of alarming Twitter messages appealing people to join in the violence.

The Metropolitan force said bottles were thrown at officers on a foot patrol and one of the vehicles was pushed into the middle of the main road before it was set on fire.

Riot police sent to the scene came under attack from a crowd throwing bottles and missiles, said the force. Eight officers were taken to hospital, one with head injuries.

The trouble spread to surrounding residential streets, where vans were also torched.

Central London has seen student and trade union protests turn ugly in recent months but this outbreak of rioting is the worst seen in years in the suburbs.

Tottenham's 'anger'

"It's very much an ongoing situation," a police spokesman said. No officers are reported to have been injured.

The earlier protest was held over the shooting of a 29-year-old man who was killed after an exchange of gunfire with police on Thursday.
 
The man had been in a taxi when it was stopped by armed officers as part of a pre-planned operation. One policeman escaped unhurt after a bullet struck his radio.

"It's really bad," local resident, David Akinsanya, 46, told the BBC.

"I'm feeling unsafe ... I saw a guy getting attacked. There seems to be a lot of anger in Tottenham tonight ... as I left they were starting to attack the police station."

Tottenham is an ethnically-diverse urban area best known for its English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur.

Source: Agencies