Northern Ireland: 70 police injured at Drumcree

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MORE THAN 70 police officers have been injured since the Orange Order's Drumcree stand-off began last July, the Royal Ulster Constabulary said last night.

The figures were revealed as the latest police victim of the violence in Portadown, Co Armagh, recovered after being injured by rioters.

A 200-strong mob attacked police lines with bricks, bottles, stones, fireworks and ball bearings fired by powerful catapults late Wednesday night. One RUC man was struck on the leg by a ball bearing during the clashes at Corcraine Bridge. Catholic officer Frankie O'Reilly was fatally injured at the same spot last August when he was hit in the face by a blast bomb.

Superintendent Mervyn Waddell of the RUC appealed to those with influence to defuse the increasingly tense situation.

He said: "The selfless dedication of these officers is in stark contrast to the elements on both sides of the community who are intent on causing trouble and making life intolerable for all people living in Portadown."