27 POLICE OFFICERS INJURED AND SIX BLAST BOMBS THROWN IN FOURTH NIGHT OF VIOLENCE

Police in riot gear on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast during sporadic violence

Police in riot gear on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast during sporadic violence

POLICE were attacked with blast bombs, a pipe bomb, petrol bombs and bricks and masonry during a fourth night of trouble across Northern Ireland.

A total of 27 officers were injured as they dealt with hours of rioting sorder in east, north, and south Belfast, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim and Portadown, Co Armagh.

Ahead of an Assembly debate on parading, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has called for cool heads over the issue.

In east Belfast, at least six blast bombs were thrown at police during a fourth night of rioting in the city.

Since Friday, 71 PSNI officers and UK ‘mutual aid’ officers have been injured.

One female police officer from England sustained a broken leg.

Police have made a total of 60 arrests over the four nights of violence and 32 have been charged.

Just around 7pm on Monday evening, serious trouble began in east Belfast at a sectarian interface on the Newtownards Road.

Officers fired two plastic baton rounds and deployed water cannon after they were attacked with petrol bombs, masonry and other missiles during five hours of sporadic violence in the area.

Some of the blast bombs were thrown from the nearby loyalist Pitt Park area, according to police.

Golf balls were thrown from the nationalist Short Strand district.

The fourth night of trouble followed a controversial ruling by the Parades Commission, banning an Orange Order parade from marching past a sectarian flashpoint at Ardoyne, north Belfast on 12 July.

In north Belfast on Monday evening, five officers sustained minor injuries after a pipe bomb was thrown at them on the Crumlin Road.

Police said the device had been thrown from Brompton Park, in the nationalist Ardoyne area around 5pm.

The pipe bomb attack took place close to where up to 1,000 people were taking part in a loyalist protest against the parade ruling.

A loyalist march walked to police lines along the Woodvale Road and then joined protesters at Twaddell Avenue.

Police instructed that the march was an illegal parade and stopped it from going further.

Elewhere in north Belfast, there was trouble on the New Lodge Road, Woodvale Road and Mount Vernon areas.

Eleven officers were injured when they were hit with masonry during rioting on the New Lodge Road.

ACC Will Kerr and a PSNI riot helmet which he said was dented with a ceremonial sword during violence in Belfast

ACC Will Kerr and a PSNI riot helmet which he said was dented with a ceremonial sword during violence in Belfast

Two of them required hospital treatment.

One officer was injured by masonry in Mount Vernon after trouble broke out after an earlier loyalist protest on the Shore Road.

A car was hijacked and set on fire, as police came under attack from petrol bombs and other missiles.

In the south of the city, rival groups gathered close to Broadway and Glenmachan Street and a crowd of about 50 people threw stones at each other and the police.

Petrol bombs were also thrown at North Queen Street, where a car was set on fire.

Police said they had liaised with community representatives in north Belfast “in an effort to restore calm”.

In Portadown, nine officers were injured when they were hit with masonry, and two of them were taken to hospital.

They were hurt during sectarian rioting in Corcrain Road, Charles Street and Park Road in the County Armagh town.

A PSNI spokesman said officers were attacked by both sides, as fireworks, bottles and golf balls were thrown from opposing crowds.

In County Tyrone, the A4 dual carriageway was closed during the early hours of Tuesday morning because a number of tyres had been set on fire.

Traffic was diverted through Moygashel for several hours but the road has since reopened.

Police in Londonderry dealt with a number of white line protests on the Glendermott and Limavady roads in the Waterside area on Monday night.

Up to 90 people were involved in the protests, which took place from about 7pm and 8.30pm. They passed off without incident.

During this period, police seized about 20 paint bombs in the city, believed to have been stashed by local youths.

PSNI Superintendent Emma Bond, speaking about the pipe bomb in north Belfast, said: “We consider ourselves extremely fortunate that we are not dealing with a much more serious incident and that all of the officers were able to walk away from that situation unharmed.

“We have appealed for calm in the area and I continue to do so.

“I would appeal to anyone with influence in the community to exert it to ensure that the next few days pass off without incident.”

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, condemned the attack in north Belfast, which she said was “deplorable”.

DUP assembly member William Humphrey said loyalist protesters had been demonstrating peacefully in the Twaddell Avenue area when the incident happened.

He described the attack as an “attempt to injure and kill”.

Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly said the attack was “completely unacceptable” and “not supported by the vast majority of the community in Ardoyne”.

It emerged on Monday night that US Vice-President Joe Biden had expressed “deep concern at parade-related violence and attacks on police” in conversation with the Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

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