Third night of rioting in Belfast

As the third night of violence between loyalist mobs in riot-hit north Belfast subsided, police said they had come under fire.

As the third night of violence between loyalist mobs in riot-hit north Belfast subsided, police said they had come under fire.

A police spokesman said there were five separate shooting incidents in the flashpoint Limestone Road area last night.

Loyalist rioters hurled 23 pipe and blast bombs and more than 30 petrol bombs at security forces, while a number of unexploded devices were taken away for forensic examination.

The spokesman said riot squad officers fired 15 plastic baton rounds. There were no reports of any injuries.

He confirmed that police had also been attacked with a number of petrol bombs.

The spokesman said the trouble began 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 swamped the area in a desperate attempt to prevent the trouble spreading into the nearby nationalist area.

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 the trouble was sparked by police heavy handedness in breaking up violence the previous 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.

Loyalist community worker Eddie McClean claimed that loyalist dissidents had entered the Tiger’s Bay area to stoke up the trouble.

But he blamed police brutality for the upsurge in violence.

‘‘A lot of outsiders and dissidents have come into the area just for the sake of rioting. There are lot of people with grudges against the police force.

‘‘The police have created this situation. They are going to have to rethink their strategy,’’ he added.

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