Tottenham's MP lead widespread condemnation of the rioters, while the police - criticised too for their response - work to restore calm to the trashed London High Street.

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MP David Lammy made an emotional appeal for calm and restraint in a community left devastated by riots that broke out over the fatal police shooting of a man earlier in the week.

Mr Lammy said many of those who had committed the violent acts were from outside Tottenham, simply intent on causing violence.

Scotland Yard reported that 26 officers were injured during the unrest, while 42 people were arrested for offences including violent disorder, burglary and theft.

Mr Lammy said: "A community that is already hurting has now had the heart ripped out of it. The Post Office, Fitness shop, newsagents, mobile phone shops, council buildings that deal with customer complaints - smashed to pieces by mindless, mindless people last night."

He spoke as police patrolled the streets in Tottenham, north London, targeting "isolated pockets of criminality" as residents surveyed the damage left by hundreds of rioters.

This is nothing like the sorts of scenes that we saw back 25 years ago, then there was a particular relationship with the police. This is an attack on Tottenham, on people, ordinary people. David Lammy MP

Buildings and vehicles were set ablaze as rioters took to the streets demanding "justice" for the death of Mark Duggan, 29, who was shot dead by police on Thursday.

Mr Lammy said ordinary people had been left homeless by the violence, adding that the authorities did not know if there are fatalities to be found in some of the homes above the shops that had been destroyed.

The MP, who has lived in Tottenham all his life, rejected the idea that last night's troubles evoked memories of 1985, when a police officer, PC Keith Blakelock, was hacked to death following a riot in Broadwater Farm, where the marchers set off yesterday.

Mr Lammy said: "This is nothing like the sorts of scenes that we saw back 25 years ago, then there was a particular relationship with the police. This is an attack on Tottenham, on people, ordinary people, shopkeepers, women, children - who are now standing on the streets homeless as a consequence."

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Peaceful protest deteriorates

Scotland Yard's Commander Stephen Watson said: "We are aware of raised tensions in the community, which are understandable following the tragic death of Mark Duggan.

"What we experienced earlier on yesterday evening was a peaceful protest outside Tottenham police station - there was no indication it would deteriorate in this way.

What we experienced earlier on yesterday evening was a peaceful protest outside Tottenham police station - there was no indication it would deteriorate in this way. Scotland Yard

"For those who involved themselves in this level of violence, there is no excuse."

The peaceful protest which began 200 yards from Tottenham Police Station, quickly spread and descended into chaos with crowds of looters smashing shop windows and plundering goods.

People were seen pushing shopping trolleys with plasma TVs away from the riot scenes, while some were said to turn up with their cars and filled their boots with stolen items.

Riot police, some mounted on horses, faced more than 400 rioters – including many that threw bricks and bottles at the police line.

Channel 4 News spoke to one rioter, who gave his name as Jamal.He said: "These are our ends, we're here to tell the police they can’t abuse us, harass us. We won’t put up with it, this is just the beginning, this is war, and this is what you get – fire."

Home Secretary Theresa May condemned the violence. "Such disregards for public safety and property will not be tolerated and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order. I want to pay tribute to the officers who put themselves in harm’s way."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said he was appalled by the scenes of destruction in Tottenham. "The events leading to these disturbances are rightly being investigated by the IPCC. Harming people and property will do nothing to facilitate the investigation, it will only make the situation worse," Mr Johnson said.

Scotland Yard said at least one of the injured officers in hospital was being treated for head injuries.

Tottenham riots in north London leave 8 police officers in hospital (Image: Reuters)