Rioting and communal violence shows no sign of abating in tension-wracked Northern Ireland as loyalist gangs continue to go on the rampage.
For the third night in a row, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) came under attack as loyalist gangs threw petrol bombs and bricks at officers in Newtonabbey (North Belfast) and Carrickfergus in Country Antrim on Sunday night (April 04).
Meanwhile, in Derry police were attacked for a sixth night in a row in the Dungiven Road area with children as young as 12 actively targeting PSNI officers.
The latest spate of violence comes on the heels of intense rioting in Newtonabbey on Saturday night (April 03), when loyalist gangs hurled 30 petrol bombs at police officers.
The night before (April 02), loyalists had clashed with the PSNI in an intense bout of disorder in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast.
Taking stock of the latest outburst of rioting, the chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, claimed that “older more sinister” elements were “influencing” younger people to target the PSNI.
Speaking to BBC News Northern Ireland’s Good Morning Ulster radio show, Lindsay said there is "obviously paramilitary involvement" in the riots.
"Some [young people] don't even know why they are attacking them [PSNI], they're simply doing as they're told or it's seen by some as a bit of fun or recreational".
Meanwhile, PSNI north area commander, chief superintendent Davy Beck, appealed to rioters to stop “immediately”, before adding their actions are “causing nothing but harm and distress to the very communities they claim they are representing".
Political and communal tensions have dramatically risen in Northern Ireland in recent weeks as the repercussions of Brexit and the concomitant rise of the Irish Unity movement has eroded the political advantage of the unionist and loyalist communities.