A NUMBER of vehicles have been torched and others damaged during hours of mindless disorder involving youths in the Market district of south Belfast.
Several vehicles parked at Stewart Street which snakes along beside Central Station were attacked with stones and paint during on Monday afternoon.
Police had to escort drivers back to their cars after the youths started to stone them.
Police said they responded to reports “of a group of young people throwing stones and damaging cars in the Stewart Street area”.
The trouble erupted after Belfast City Council staff moved in to remove material gathered for an anti-internment bonfire planned for tomorrow night.
A number of police Land Rovers remain at the scene.
Superintendent Andrea McMullan said: “Police are dealing with some localised disorder in the Friendly Street area of the Market, which has been caused by a small group of youths.
“We are working with local representatives and members of the community to address the situation.
“There has been some stone –throwing, damage to parked cars and a number of petrol bombs have also been thrown.
“Local residents of the Markets do not want this kind of activity on their doorsteps and we would urge those engaged in violence and criminal damage to stop – and go home.”
Local Sinn Féin councillor Deirdre Hargey condemned the attacks as “nothing short of mindless vandalism”.
“Both commuters and residents have been affected,” she said.
“Cars have been smashed with stones and several have been set alight.”
“Over the weekend there were a series of incidents of vandalism in the Market area.
“There is no defending this behaviour at all and it needs to stop now.”
She asked parents to take responsibility for their children and know where they were at all times.
“The community, both young and old, have been involved in a positive community festival over the last few days and those involved in this negative behaviour damage the good reputation of this community,” said Ms Hargey.