33 police officers injured by rioting loyalists

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The Independent Online

Thirty-three police officers were injured when serious loyalist rioting broke out in north Belfast last night.

Thirty-three police officers were injured when serious loyalist rioting broke out in north Belfast last night.

Police fired plastic bullets at rioters after they were confronted by six blast bombs, 50 shots, two bursts of automatic machine gunfire, 125 petrol bombs and fireworks on the Crumlin Road.

The RUC said at least 300 people were involved in the trouble which they described as "serious disorder".

The trouble broke out when crowds taking part in what had been a peaceful protest on the Crumlin Road tried to force their way up the road to Brookfield Mill where Catholic workers had a narrow escape earlier in the day when an explosive device was thrown into the yard where they were standing.

None was injured but a number of cars were damaged.

Earlier, loyalist protesters threw fireworks at the parents of the Holy Cross schoolchildren in north Belfast.

Parents from the Catholic Ardoyne area were on their way through the neighbouring Protestant Glenbryn district to collect pupils when the fireworks were thrown, police said. Nobody was hurt in the incident.

Sinn Fein claimed loyalist paramilitaries had threatened to shoot the parents. The firework attack had caused widespread panic and distress and was part of a campaign to drive nationalists out of the area, they added.

The RUC Assistant Chief Constable, Alan McQuillan, said: "Once again we have seen disgraceful scenes of disorder in north Belfast. This comes on top of the appalling scenes earlier in the day when a section of the protesters at Ardoyne threw fireworks at parents going to collect their children from Holy Cross School.

"Tonight police again find themselves in the middle attempting to prevent a concerted attack on the nationalist community."

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