Thirteen PSNI officers injured in Belfast clashes

 

The number of PSNI officers injured after sectarian rioting erupted in an east Belfast neighbourhood has risen to thirteen.

Security forces came under a "sustained and orchestrated attack" in the Catholic Short Strand enclave, a PSNI spokesman said.

Petrol bombs were launched at security forces and one baton round was fired in a bid to disperse hundreds of rioters as tensions switched from the north of the city.

Two of the wounded officers were detained in hospital following the disorder which started when missiles were hurled across a peace line at Protestant homes in Cluan Place.

The trouble flared after Apprentice Boys who had returned from a major demonstration in Derry dispersed on Albertbridge Road.

"When police responded the crowd had swollen to at least 200," the spokesman added.

"When police attempted to restore order they were prevented from entering the Clandeboye area by an organised protest involving women and children who were sitting across the street."

Several cars were also used to form a barrier in a bid to stop security forces going into the Short Strand.

Mr Jim Rodgers, the Ulster Unionist former Lord Mayor of Belfast, has denounced the violence which he claims was fuelled by republicans.

"I totally condemn the disgraceful but well-organised attacks on the police and challenge Sinn Féin/IRA to do likewise," he said.

But Ms Bernie McConnell, a community worker in the nationalist area, insisted Catholic homes had endured a barrage of stone attacks all day.

"Police came in very heavy handed to Clandeboye," she said.

"We just about managed to get them out without any big trouble but there's a lot of tension around here."

PA