Belfast: 22 PSNI Officers Injured As Anti-Peace Thugs Engage In Serious Rioting: UPDATED

12 Jul

NEWS UPDATE:

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Video: Riots Break Out In Belfast 

Police Attacked With Petrol Bombs In NI Riots

Police Attacked With Petrol Bombs In NI Riots.

Police have come under attack from crowds of rioters who threw petrol bombs, stones and bricks at them in west Belfast overnight.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said a bus was also hijacked and driven at a police cordon, but crashed nearby.

More than 20 officers were injured during the violence. Four were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Water cannons were used in efforts to disperse crowds of between 100 and 200 people who began throwing stones and missiles at police lines in the Broadway area of the city.

Plastic bullets were fired at rioters in the nationalist areas of Broadway and Old Park.

Petrol bombs were thrown at officers in North Queen Street and the bus was hijacked on the Falls Road before being driven at police. 

Other vehicles were hijacked or set on fire.

There were reports of gunshots in the Broadway area, but no injuries, police said.

The trouble came as loyalists prepared for the traditional Twelfth of July celebrations to mark the anniversary of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne.

Tens of thousands of Orangemen and bandsmen are due to march later on Tuesday for the annual event, which signals the height of the marching season.

It is feared sectarian tensions could continue to boil over in flashpoint areas of Belfast and Craigavon, Co Armagh.

Politicians and clergy on all sides have appealed for a day free of violence.

Every available police officer will be on duty at 19 separate demonstrations, with the largest expected to be in Belfast.

Loyalist violence flared late on Saturday night and the early hours following the controversial police removal of Northern Ireland and Union flags in Ballyclare, Co Antrim.

Trouble then spread to Larne, Carrickfergus, as well as Newtownabbey on the northern outskirts of Belfast, and some Catholics’ homes were attacked.

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Twenty-two PSNI officers were injured in serious overnight rioting in west Belfast.

12 July - Marching season reaches its peak today

12 July – Marching season reaches its peak today.
 

Crowds of up to 200 nationalists threw over 40 petrol bombs and masonry at officers in riot gear.

51 plastic baton rounds were fired in the Broadway and Oldpark areas of the city when police lines came under attack.

A water cannon was deployed during the disturbances at Broadway.

Police are investigating reports that gunshots were fired in the area.

The trouble flared during loyalist celebrations to mark the height of the marching season.

The emergency services in Northern Ireland received a total of 180 fire calls over a seven-hour period up until 1am, representing a 65% increase over the same period last year.

At the peak of activity, they were processing one call every 75 seconds with the majority of these from within the greater Belfast area.

Fire crews from the Springfield Fire Station also came under attack in west Belfast from stone throwing youths but escaped injury.

Meanwhile, thousands of Orange Order members are expected to take part in the annual 12 July parades.

60,00 Orangemen will parade at 18 venues.

The majority of thye demonstrations are expected to pass off without incident, although a major security operation is in place in north Belfast where a controversial parade passes near the republican Ardoyne area.

In Dublin, President Mary McAleese is marking what will be her last 12 July in office, with a garden party at Áras an Uachtaráin for several hundred guests from both sides of the border.

North Belfast hoax

A number of people had to leave their homes for a time early this morning in north Belfast following reports of a suspicious vehicle in Ballysillan.

British army bomb experts were called to the scene at Glenbryn Parade at around 12.30am.

The alert was later declared a hoax and local residents were allowed to return home.

NEWS UPDATE:

BELFAST (Reuters) – Twenty-two police were injured when Irish nationalists rioted in Northern Ireland overnight, burning cars and firing petrol bombs to protest huge annual marches by Protestants planned for Tuesday.

Police fired plastic bullets and used water cannon to control crowds of up to 200 people in Roman Catholic areas of West Belfast, a police spokeswoman said. Rioters hijacked a bus during the disturbances and burnt a van and motorcycle.

Tens of thousands of Protestants were due to take part in marches on Tuesday to mark the 1690 victory of King William of Orange over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne, which helped ensure Protestant supremacy in Ireland.

Many Catholics regard the marches as provocative, and violent protests often erupt as they pass Catholic suburbs.

Three decades of fighting between mostly Protestant loyalists who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom and Irish nationalists, mainly Catholics, who want it to be part of a united Ireland tore the province apart during the period known as the “Troubles.”

A 1998 peace agreement paved the way for a power-sharing government of loyalists and nationalists. Violence has subsided over the years, but small dissident armed groups are still active in the province.

The clashes erupted overnight as Protestant groups lit hundreds of bonfires across the province to mark the July 12 holiday.

A bus was hijacked, the driver dragged into the road and the passengers ordered off before it was crashed while being driven towards police near Belfast’s mainly Catholic Falls Road.

Police said no officers were seriously injured in the overnight clashes.

In North Belfast, a bomb alert, which eventually proved to be a hoax, forced the evacuation of a number of homes for several hours.

(Reporting by Ian Graham; Editing by Conor Humphries and Peter Cooney)

NEWS UPDATE:

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Northern Ireland’s divisive annual holiday called “The Twelfth,” when tens of thousands of Protestants parade across the British territory, got off to a violent start Tuesday with riots in several parts of Belfast.

Police said at least seven officers were injured during street clashes that gathered pace after Protestants lit scores of towering bonfires at midnight, the traditional start to one-sided Twelfth celebrations that for decades have inspired bloodshed and destruction.

Tens of thousands of members of the Orange Order, a Protestant brotherhood dedicated to celebrating 17th-century military victories over Catholics, planned to march later in the day.

As the acrid smell of bonfires wafted across Belfast, crowds of Catholic militants seeking a fight with police turned violent in several front-line areas where fixed barricades called “peace lines” separate British Protestant and Irish Catholic turf.

In one of the worst clashes, police confronted a 200-strong crowd of men and teenagers in the Broadway section of Catholic west Belfast. The police lines formed a barrier preventing the Catholics from reaching Protestant bonfire celebrants on the far side of the M1 motorway that bisects the city.

The rioters tossed Molotov cocktails, masonry, bricks and stones at police, who donned visored helmets, shields and head-to-toe flame retardent suits. At one point rioters hijacked a bus at gunpoint on the nearby Falls Road and apparently tried to drive the vehicle at police lines, but it crashed into nearby fencing instead and was set ablaze.

At Broadway and two other Belfast flashpoints, police contained the rioters with sporadic volleys of British-style plastic bullets — blunt-nosed cylinders designed to deal hard blows to their targets — and heavy doses of blasts from mobile water cannon.

Police could offer no estimates of civilian casualties, which is typical amid the confusion of nighttime Northern Ireland riots. Unless seriously injured, Belfast rioters try to avoid hospital treatment because police investigate those who have suffered wounds apparently suffered during riots.

On both sides of the overnight trouble, many members of the youthful crowds were visibly drinking heavily. Often the just-emptied bottles joined the salvo of objects being thrown at police positioned to keep the two sides apart.

Tuesday’s violence follows weeks of similar flare-ups in working-class districts of Belfast and nearby suburbs that have left scores of police injured, none critically. Last week, Protestants rioted in one suburb after police removed British and sectarian flags from street lights near the area’s lone Catholic church.

Northern Ireland remains a deeply divided society despite the broad success of its two-decade-old peace process. The leaders of peacemaking’s central achievement — a Catholic-Protestant government based on an eastern hilltop overlooking the city — appealed in vain for rioters to desist this year.

Later Tuesday, Orangemen planned to march at 17 locations accompanied by so-called “kick the pope” fife-and-drum bands. The conservative society planned to ask its members to back resolutions lauding the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible; the recent wedding of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton; and the predominantly Protestant members of the locally recruited British army regiments in Northern Ireland.

Police are bracing for potential violence Tuesday night as Orangemen marching back to their lodges will pass Catholic districts. British authorities have tried to minimize such confrontations by restricting the routes of Orange parades over the past 15 years, but several potential flashpoints remain on the Belfast map.

NEWS UPDATE:

Rioters attack police lines from behind a burnt out car as a large crowd of Nationalists gather on the Broadway in west Belfast, Northern Ireland Monday, July 11, 2011. Northern Ireland's divisive annual holiday called "The Twelfth," when tens of thousands of Protestants parade across the British territory, got off to a violent start Tuesday with riots in several parts of Belfast. (AP Photo/Colm O'Reilly)

Rioters attack police lines from behind a burnt out car as a large crowd of Nationalists …

A man moves forward from a large crowd of Nationalists gather on the Broadway in west Belfast, Northern Ireland Monday, July 11, 2011 as rioters attacked police lines by hurling petrol bombs and masonry. Northern Ireland's divisive annual holiday called "The Twelfth," when tens of thousands of Protestants parade across the British territory, got off to a violent start Tuesday with riots in several parts of Belfast. (AP Photo/Colm O'Reilly)

A man moves forward from a large crowd of Nationalists gather on the Broadway in …

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Police say 22 officers have been injured during a night of Catholic rioting in Belfast in advance of mass parades by Protestants.

Several hundred Catholic men and youths threw about 40 Molotov cocktails during overnight assaults on police lines. A hijacked bus was driven at one police position but crashed into a fence.

Police said they fired 51 plastic bullets and doused rioters with blasts from mobile water cannons. They said the officers’ injuries were mostly minor.

British army experts also dismantled a fake car bomb abandoned in a Protestant district of north Belfast.

The mayhem preceded Tuesday’s mass parades by the Orange Order brotherhood across Northern Ireland. The annual Protestant demonstrations always raise community tensions and often inspire rioting.

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