RUC lists over 100 injured in disturbances

 

WIDESPREAD violence continued throughout the North yesterday. Some parts are now regarded as "no-go" areas and the AA has advised people not to travel there if the trip can be postponed.

According to the RUC, 57 civilians arid 46 police officers were injured, six of them seriously, during disturbances. The worst of the rioting happened in Belfast and Derry.

Almost 550 incidents were reported by the RUC during 36 hours of intensive disorder. They included 200 hijackings and 361 petrol bombings.

Two 14-year-old boys are in hospital following disturbances in Belfast.

A Catholic boy, Gary Lawlor from Lenadoon, shot in the back of the head by a plastic bullet is said to be in a critical condition. His family wants the soldier charged with attempted murder and called for the banning of plastic bullets.

Another 14-year-old who had been climbing a wail during disturbances at Lanark Way was hit by a bullet fired across the peace line. It is thought the shot came from the Springfield area.

The boy was said to be in a stable condition, but a local man said he may lose his arm. He had recently been offered a two-week trial with Chelsea football club.

In Armagh, a teenager is recovering from an attack by a masked gang who discovered his accordion band uniform in his car.

He was forced to walk ahead of them playing his instrument as they drove the car at his heels into a nationalist estate. They attacked him with bricks and stories as he played Gospel tunes. He suffered head and facial injuries.

When a helicopter passed over-head, the gang fled. He said: "I would like to forgive the people who attacked me."

Belfast City Hospital dealt with 17 casualties. Eight were still in hospital last night, while in the Royal Victoria Hospital three of its seven casualties were still being treated.

In Newry nine casualties were admitted to Daisy Hill Hospital.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said it received 150 calls directly related to the violence, its chief executive, Mr Paul McCormick, said: "It was probably as bad as Northern Ireland has ever seen.

Roads throughout the region have been blocked with burning cars, buses and other vehicles.

According to the AA, Newry was completely impassable and should be avoided. Traffic should cross the Border at Aughnacloy.

Armagh was also to be avoided with reports of burning cars across the city. Bus and rail services were also affected, particularly in Lurgan and Portadown.

There were hijackings and burnings in West Belfast. In Downpatrick, police arrested a man and recovered a gun and masks during what was described as "severe rioting" in the Flying Horse estate.

According to the RUC, armed and masked men were spotted in the area and officers fired into the air during disturbances. In Coalisland, police found petrol bombs and made four arrests.

Cladybeg Orange Hall near Newtownhamiiton in South Armagh was damaged by fire - the third attack on the building in 24 hours.

The blaze was spotted at 10 a.m. by an army helicopter.

Derry saw some of the worst of the rioting, with businesses damaged and a city centre bank destroyed.

A spate of hijackings, petrol bombing and rioting erupted in the Bogside.

The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall came under sustained attack. The worst violence happened in the William Street and Waterloo Place area, close to the Bogside. Five people were injured, four seriously, by plastic bullets.

There were bomb alerts in Belfast's Castle Court shopping centre, Linenhall Street, Botanic Avenue and at the Europa Hotel.

The outlawed INLA said it was behind gun attacks on the security forces in West Belfast early yesterday. In the Markets area of Belfast, the British army came under machinegun attack.

On the Lower Ormeau Road Protestant businesses were targeted by rioters while vehicles were hijacked and burnt out. In the New Barnsley area. police came under fire minutes after a blast bomb exploded near the RUC station.

The RUC returned fire when attacked in the Ardoyne by men carrying a rocket launcher.

Also in West Belfast, petrol bombs were thrown at police and soldiers and more plastic bullets were fired. Shots were also fired at the security forces in the Oldpark area, where they came under sustained petrol bomb attack.

They responded with plastic bullets before charging to disperse the rioters. One man was badly hurt.

There were hijackings and burnings on the Falls and Springfield Roads, while a burning digger blocked the Whiterock Road.

On the Whitewell Road loyalists stoned the house of a 72-year-old widow. Her daughter said: "She has never done anybody any harm in her life. And thank God she was away."

In Portadown a bomb alert closed off Obins Street for some time

The Buttercrane shopping centre in Newry was looted early yesterday. Store manager Mr Peter Murray said seven of the stores suffered superficial damage, and three had been raided.

In Armagh many roads were blocked by burning vehicles. One city hotel was gutted and looted in the early morning. Shots were fired at police near the old post office.

A short time later serious rioting erupted, with youths firing bricks and bottles at police. The RUC fired plastic baton rounds and one man was injured.

The SDLP deputy leader and MP for Newry and Armagh, Mr Seamus Mallon said the Northern Secretary and the Chief Constable were to blame for the violence.

"I am appalled by the fundamental damage which was caused by the decision made by the Secretary of State and the Chief Constable in relation to the march at Drumcree. There is no question or doubt that that wrote the script for what has happened since."

The Catholic bishops in the North issued a joint statement calling for calm. They said: "We are saddened and appalled at the events of the past 24 hours. We abhor the threats of violence which caused yesterday's decision to be taken.

"Tragically, a wave of violence has been unleashed in different parts of our dioceses which has left people injured and property destroyed. We share a profound and widespread sense of hurt, humiliation and frustration. We appeal to all, especially young people, to refrain from acts of violence. We appeal to older people to exercise a calming influence.

"Despite the clear deepening of distrust we appeal to people in areas of contested marches to get into discussions at once and try to reach agreement. Finally, we ask everyone to pray that this terrible evil of conflict will be removed from us and that the spirit of moderation will prevail and will lead to accommodation and agreement.

"This is a time when the teaching of Christ challenges us all and demands courageous generosity."