Wednesday Sep 05, 201206:52 AM GMT
Belfast riots feared return to Troubles
Wed Sep 5, 2012 6:51AM
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More than 60 police officers have been injured in savage sectarian unrest on the streets of Northern Ireland’s capital of Belfast in clashes that raise fears of a return to Irish Troubles.


Police fired baton rounds and used water cannons to disperse demonstrators who answered by throwing missiles at the officers in the third night of violence on Tuesday.

The disturbances began on Sunday night after anti-British marchers paraded nearby a pro-British vicinity in Belfast to condemn Protestant loyalist bandsmen who had played a contentious tune outside a Republican Catholic church in the city.

During the Sunday night disorder, 47 police officers were injured and three were sent to hospitals for being hit by bricks, stones, bottles and fireworks.

Reports say 62 officers have been so far injured and seven others have been hospitalized, mostly due to injuries by hundreds of pro-British Protestant rioters in Belfast’s Shankill district.

Shankill is known for having witnessed more killing during the Troubles, during which an estimated 3,529 people including 1,842 civilians were killed, than any other location in Northern Ireland.

The number of deaths in a certain area of the district even led to its labeling as the murder mile.

The new wave of violence in Belfast that is reminiscent of the clashes during the Trouble’s has drawn condemnation by a senior police officer who challenged politicians to sort out the parades problem before someone is killed.

“Northern Ireland cannot afford an 11th hour solution,” said Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr.

“Collectively, we cannot afford to wait and we cannot have night after night of violence on our streets. Following two nights of disorder, we have a number of police officers who are no longer available to deliver their core policing duties, protecting the communities they serve,” he added.

Kerr also said the police believe that members of the loyalist paramilitary groups are involved in triggering the clashes.

AMR/HSN/HE
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