Several injured in sectarian rioting

Several people were tonight injured during the latest bout of sectarian rioting in strife-torn north Belfast.

Several people were tonight injured during the latest bout of sectarian rioting in strife-torn north Belfast.

As rival factions stoned each other in the flashpoint North Queen Street area a man in his twenties was struck by a silver-coloured car.

A metal trolley was then launched at a police vehicle as officers responded, bouncing off and hitting a number of people.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman could not confirm reports that one Catholic girl was taken to hospital with suspected broken legs following the incident.

But Sinn Fein councillor Gerard Brophy claimed the trouble had been instigated by top loyalist paramilitaries in the area.

‘‘I stood and watched leading UDA figures instigate this from midday onwards,’’ he said.

Meanwhile fighting also erupted in the nearby Whitewell district.

At least one house in Serpentine Gardens was badly damaged, police said.

There was also reports of Catholic and Protestant teenagers attacking each other with stones in the Ardoyne district, scene of last year’s protests near the Holy Cross primary school.

Billy Hutchinson, a Northern Ireland Assembly member with the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party, accused the army of being ‘‘heavy handed’’.

‘‘It was just kids on each side stoning each other,’’ he said.

The latest violence came after a weekend of vicious clashes which saw more than 30 police officers and 10 civilians injured during two nights of trouble.

The rioting involving crowds of up to 800-strong prompted The Lord Mayor of Belfast to call for water cannons to be deployed in the north of the city.

During the violence on Saturday and Sunday rival nationalists and loyalists attacked each other, and the police, with axes, iron bars, baseball bats and breeze blocks.

Police fired plastic bullets but Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers said water cannon should be used for riot control and to help identify the trouble makers.

‘‘Anything is an excuse for these people. Football is a sport and whether you win or lose, you certainly don’t have to go out and riot and cause mayhem on the streets,’’ he said.

The Ulster Unionist councillor added: ‘‘What I would like to see now is water cannons with dye used to clear our streets.

‘‘When you have young people of the age of eight upwards throwing missiles at police you can’t allow it to continue.’’

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