Man arrested after assault rifle attack on police in north Belfast
Two dissident attacks in Belfast in two days a ‘worrying trend’, says SDLP’s Alex Attwood
“It is fortunate that we are not dealing with fatalities this morning and those responsible are to be utterly condemned for their evil and reckless actions,” said PSNI Chief Supt George Clarke.
A 34-year-old man was being questioned by PSNI detectives last night following a gun attack on police in north Belfast on Thursday night. Dissident republicans were blamed for Thursday night’s attack and also for a similar gun attack on police in west Belfast on Friday night.
No one was injured in either incident, although the attacks have raised concerns that dissident groups may be planning to escalate activity in the run-up to Christmas.
Police said it was extremely fortunate that members of the public or police officers weren’t killed in both attacks. The 34-year-old man was arrested in north Belfast yesterday and taken to Antrim PSNI station for questioning.
A patrol of three vehicles came under attack shortly after 7pm as they drove along the Crumlin Road near Ardoyne shops on Thursday. At least 10 shots were fired.
A number of loyalists at the nearby Twaddell Avenue protest site had to run for cover during the attack.
‘Military grade’ guns
The dissident gang used “military grade” Kalashnikov-type assault rifles in the attack, according to Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr..
“These dissident groups have absolute contempt for their own communities and complete disregard for public safety,” he said. “They fired what we believe to be military grade weapons, Kalashnikov-type weapons, in a highly built-up area, in an area where members of the public and children had been shortly beforehand.”
Shortly before midnight on Friday there was a similar attack in west Belfast when two shots struck a PSNI Land Rover on the Suffolk Road. “It is fortunate that we are not dealing with fatalities this morning and those responsible are to be utterly condemned for their evil and reckless actions,” said PSNI Chief Supt George Clarke.