Rioting flares again in north Belfast

Police have come under fire as loyalist mobs went on the rampage in north Belfast tonight.

Police have come under fire as loyalist mobs went on the rampage in north Belfast tonight.

There have been three separate shooting incidents and almost 50 blast and petrol bombs hurled at the security forces in the flashpoint Limestone Road area.

The latest trouble followed angry accusations of police brutality from community leaders in the area.

Riot squad officers have responded, firing a number of plastic baton rounds as rioting flared for the third consecutive night.

A police spokesman said the trouble began around 8pm when a crowd of around 100 people attacked police with at least five pipe bombs along with other missiles in Robina Street.

Police and army LandRovers have swamped the area in a desperate attempt to prevent the trouble spreading into the nearby nationalist area.

A large angry mob is continuing to attack the security forces in the Protestant Tiger’s Bay area while a car has been hijacked and set on fire on the Limestone Road.

A hail of blast bombs and petrol bombs have rained down on police vehicles, which are lined across the Limestone Road.

Sinn Fein councillor Danny Lavery appealed for nationalists to be calm, adding that the problems of the area would only be sorted out through dialogue between the warring factions.

‘‘Until unionists politicians get off their backsides and talk to their constituents and try to put a stop to it, this will continue,’’ he added.

North Belfast Assembly member Billy Hutchinson, of the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party said he believed tonight’s trouble was sparked by police heavy handedness in breaking up violence last night.

He repeated his call for an inquiry into the police response.

‘‘If the police are going to beat innocent women and children and pensioners then this is the result.

‘‘That doesn’t justify what is happening but people’s frustrations are going to be taken out in a predictable way.’’

Mr Hutchinson said he would welcome dialogue but said that the problems existing between the people of the area and the police will have to be sorted out first.

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