Explosions heard as Catholic children go to school

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The Independent Online

A major security operation was mounted again today to get young Catholic children to school past loyalist protesters in north Belfast.

Police and troops were in the Ardoyne area around Holy Cross Primary School for the third day running after another night of violence and as Army experts examined two suspect packages.

The all–clear was given after a controlled explosion in Ardoyne Road amid the rubble of the latest night of violence.

The security forces set up a safe corridor for several hundred yards to the school well ahead of the children's arrival.

The RUC said that in the 24 hours to 5am today, 41 officers and two soldiers had been injured in the trouble.

Some 250 petrol bombs and 15 blast bombs had been thrown and four cars set on fire and burned out.

Petrol bombs, nail bombs and blast bombs were thrown at police lines during disturbances close to the area where loyalists are engaged in the ongoing protest to prevent Catholic children going to school.

In the Glenbryn area, a large crowd of loyalists threw bottles, bricks, fireworks and ball bearings at the security forces.

There were also reports of clashes between rival mobs in North Queen Street, Limestone Road and Westland Road areas.

Northern Ireland security minister Jane Kennedy will meet political and community leaders in north Belfast today in a bid to end the protests.

Ms Kennedy said the attempted blockade must end immediately.

"I think it is important for those that are involved in the violence to understand that our priority must be those children, the safety of the children and the importance of creating an environment in which those children can go to school unmolested," she said.

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