Bus hijacked outside Belfast and set ablaze near loyalist estate

Four men board double decker in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, and order passengers off

A bus has been hijacked and set on fire near a loyalist estate on the outskirts of Belfast.

Police said four men boarded the double decker in Church Road near Rathcoole in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, at about 7.45pm and ordered passengers off.

The bus was then set alight across the road.

Stormont Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon was among those to post footage online of the vehicle on fire.

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Last Monday a bus was hijacked and burned in a loyalist area of Newtownards, Co Down, in an apparent protest against the Northern Ireland protocol.

Disorder also broke out at a community interface in west Belfast twice last week.

The violence involving youths from the nationalist Springfield Road and loyalist Shankill Road was marked by police being attacked with missiles and fireworks on Wednesday and Friday night.

Wednesday’s disorder followed a protest against the protocol.

Commenting on the latest incident, Ms Mallon said: “Our bus drivers are working-class people who deserve to be safe in their jobs. What does this madness achieve?”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police received a report of a hijacking incident in the Church Road area of Newtownabbey at around 7.45pm on Sunday evening.

“It was reported that four men got on to the bus and ordered passengers off before the bus was then set alight. Church Road is currently closed and diversions are in place and police would ask members of the public to avoid the area.” – PA