POLICE patrols have been stepped up in an area of Bolton that saw running battles between white and Asian youths at the weekend.

It was revealed today that the fighting broke out around Hawthorne Road in Deane on Saturday after a woman was racially abused by a gang of white teenagers.

Up to 60 men and boys then took to the streets armed with clubs, bats and swords leaving residents who witnessed the fighting terrified.

Two people were taken to hospital with cuts and bruises sustained in the brawl and police have made one arrest Weapons including sticks and a mace spray were found discarded in bushes after the gangs fled the area when police arrived. Sword sheaves were also found.

Detective Inspector Paul Hitchen said the violence was a "one-off".

"The catalyst for this incident appears to have occurred when a woman was verbally insulted by a group of youngsters in front of her son as she went into her home in Hawthorne Road," he said.

"We want to stress that she was not physically attacked.

"Her husband was involved in a confrontation with the youths and the situation developed into disorder.

"Patrols were increased in the area over the weekend and will continue over the coming week.

"We want to reassure people that this was a one-off."

A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon and bailed until a later date.

A number of weapons have been sent away for forensic examination.

Det Insp Hitchen said more arrests were likely.

Cllr Rosa Kay, who represents the Rumworth ward, which includes Hawthorne Road, said: "I'm very surprised because it is not an area where we have had any real tension before.

"I hope this is a flash in the pan and I would appeal to anybody who was involved for common sense to prevail in the future."

Racist graffiti was daubed on fencing in Hawthorne Road following the violence and a window was smashed at the nearby Institute of Higher Islamic Education, which recently moved to Willows Lane from Bromley Cross.

Trustee Yousuf Bhailok said: "There's nothing to suggest that the smashed window was anything to do with other events on Saturday night.

"I can say for certain that none of our boys was involved."