THE PSNI has confirmed police officers have come under gun fire attack as fresh trouble has broken out again in east Belfast for a third day in a row.
A 38-year-old man was arrested on Saturday afternoon on suspicion of attempted murder after shots were fired at police lines.
Union flag protest organiser has condemned those who have fired shots at PSNI but said the blame for what has happened lies with those who voted to take the flag at Belfast City Hall.
The PSNI have used water cannon to try and disperse a crowd of around 100 which had attacked police with smoke bombs, missiles and bricks.
Officers are trying to push the mob down the lower Newtownards Road and away from the local Alliance Party office for MP Naomi Long.
The PSNI have advised motorists to avoid the Newtownards Road until calm is restored.
However, loyalists claim the trouble was initially started by youths from nearby Short Strand district and alleged a young baby was hurt.
A loyalist said: “People are being attacked for no reason whatsoever.
“Police landrovers have smashed through the gates of Pitt Park. What is that about?
“On Friday night we had women and children being beaten by police. Loyalists are going to stand for this any longer.”
Belfast Daily reported earlier on Saturday that police chiefs fear officers could under gunfire attack from paramilitaries in east Belfast.
And PSNI chiefs have held back from firing baton rounds after intelligence warned that if officers fired the rubber batons, paramilitaries may respond “with lead rounds”.
Now the Police Federeation said its members believe live rounds have fired at them as they try to keep the peace in the area.
It came after hundreds of Union flag protestors had brought Belfast city centre to a standstill on Saturday.
The protest has been organised over social networking sites to garner opposition to the council’s decision to only fly the Union flag on 17 designated days of the year.
Protestors are carrying banners saying – Britain First – Defend Our Flag – Smash Alliance banner positioned in front of the City Hall where the vote was taken last month.
Translink Metro Service into the city centre has been halted for a while until the protest ends.
The rally has left the City Hall and marched up Donegall Place – the shopping heart of the city.
There is also a heavy police presence in and around the City Hall with some main routes blocked riot squad police and landrovers.
Police out in force for Union Flag protest
Officers are also monitoring a number of protestors who have their faces covered by scarves, hoods, and balaclavas which is a criminal offence.
Riot police with dogs are also patrolling the grounds of Belfast City Hall to prevent any security breaches of the building.
Members of the Ulster People’s Forum, set up by former FAIR director Willie Frazer, are also attending.
He said some of the protests are not being reported as taking place.
Speaking at the City Hall, Mr Frazer said: “People are coming together. They are sick of it.”