04 August 2005

Officers injured in disturbances


Six vehicles were set on fire during the trouble

Eight police officers have been injured and plastic bullets fired during rioting on Belfast's Crumlin Road.

Petrol bombs, fireworks and other missiles were thrown and cars hijacked during the disturbances.

Police in riot gear were involved in a stand-off with rioters and the PSNI said loyalist paramilitaries were behind the violence.

The trouble followed the arrests of six men in connection with an operation linked to the ongoing loyalist feud.

Three cars and a lorry were hijacked and set on fire. The police closed off part of the Crumlin Road. A bus was also set on fire in Enfield Street.

The disturbances broke out shortly before 1730 BST.

Police on Cambrai Street came under attack from stones, bottles, fireworks and petrol bombs.

Acting PSNI Chief Inspector Paul McCormill appealed for calm and said the trouble could escalate.

"The serious outbreak of violent disorder is attributable to loyalist paramilitaries," he said.

Police in riot gear went to the scene

"At the minute we are just containing the people in the area and we're just waiting to see how things are developing," he said.

"We've been contacting community representatives and we are trying to diffuse that situation by negotiation with representatives from the community.

"I would appeal to those community representatives to exercise whatever influence they have over the people in the area, to ensure that this serious disorder is brought to a peaceful conclusion as soon as possible."

A "significant number" of petrol bombs, paint, bricks and stones were thrown at police, he said.

Three plastic baton rounds were fired by the PSNI.

Local community workers said the disturbances broke out in direct response to the earlier searches.

There were allegations that police had been heavy-handed during the searches.

However, while local DUP representatives were raising their concerns with police, trouble broke out.

Transport company Translink said it had suspended services on the Shankill Road after the bus was hijacked.

There were no passengers on board the vehicle which was hijacked at the top of the Ballygomartin Road. The driver was not injured.

The Crumlin Road is closed between Tennant Street and Brookfield Mills.

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