Indians protest in Sydney after new attack: police

Hundreds of Indian students protested and launched violent reprisals overnight in Australia's biggest city, in the latest flare-up in racial tensions in recent weeks, police said.

Police said they had to call in the dog squad to control the crowd in west Sydney, where protesters wielding sticks and baseball bats attacked men of "Middle Eastern appearance" in apparent retaliation for an earlier assault.

India's foreign minister urged national students in Australia to stay calm in the wake of a series of racial attacks on them in recent weeks.

"I would like our Indian students to be patient ... restrained. They have gone there to pursue higher studies, they should concentrate on that," S.M. Krishna told reporters in New Delhi.

It was believed to be the first time Indian students had reacted violently to a series of attacks on them in Australia which have caused outrage on the subcontinent and strained diplomatic ties between Canberra and New Delhi.

The student protesters gathered after an Indian man in his early 20s was attacked by a group of men of Middle Eastern descent, according to police.

They then attacked a carload of men who drove past and pelted them with eggs, leaving them with cuts and bruises, said Pawan Luthra, the Sydney-based publisher of a newspaper called Indian Link.

Police superintendent Robert Redfern denied reports members of the crowd, which finally dispersed at about 2:00 am, were armed with knives.

But he said: "There were certainly suggestions people had either baseball bats or hockey sticks and the like."

Redfern said the violence in Harris Park was not race-related and stemmed from a series of "opportunistic" crimes against Indians in the area.

But NSW Lebanese Community Council spokesman Elie Nassif said there had been tensions between small sections of the Lebanese and Indian communities.

"Whether we like it or not, it is happening, but as community leaders we should work together to wipe all this out," he told ABC radio.

Recent assaults on Indian students have been dubbed "curry bashings" in the Indian media and prompted frantic diplomatic efforts in Canberra to ease New Delhi's concerns about the issue.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this month called in the former head of Australia's elite Special Air Service regiment to lead a task force examining the attacks.

The issue came to a head late last month when student Sravan Kumar Theerthala was left comatose after being stabbed with a screwdriver by gatecrashers at a party he was attending in Melbourne.

after giving birth at the Vancouver Aquarium. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck