Racial violence has erupted near Australia's city of Sydney.

Thousands of white youths on Sunday rallied against people of Middle Eastern origin at suburban beaches south of the city.

The crowds drank alcohol, waved Australian flags and later clashed with police and attacked people of Middle Eastern appearance.

Several people were hospitalized and others were arrested as violence spread to nearby suburbs later Sunday night.

Some in the crowds said they were reacting to an attack last week on two beach lifeguards, allegedly by young men of Middle Eastern origin.

Since then, local radio talk shows have discussed the incident and a cell-phone text-message campaign called for retaliation.

Local people have accused Middle Eastern residents of Sydney's poorer areas of threatening beach-goers.

Some information for thisr eport provided of AP and Reuters.