Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Dissidents fired shots during riot

A loyalist throws a petrol bomb during riots in Belfast (AP)
Police come under attack in the Newtownards Road area of Belfast
Petrol bombs are thrown towards the Short Strand area of east Belfast (AP)

Dissident republicans were responsible for the gun shots which wounded a press photographer during serious rioting in Belfast, police have said.

The Press Association photographer was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital with an injury to his right leg following the burst of three shots. He is said to be in a stable condition.

Petrol bombs, fireworks, bottles and bricks were among items thrown at police during a second night of the worst violence in east Belfast for many years.

A police spokeswoman said: "Police can confirm that dissident republicans were responsible for the shots that were fired during last night's disorder in east Belfast."

Dissident republicans have been responsible for a string of attacks on members of the police and Army. In April they killed Constable Ronan Kerr, 25, in an under-car booby trap bomb outside his home in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

There have been pitched battles between loyalists and republicans in the Lower Newtownards Road and Short Strand areas during the last two days. The police were targeted after they came between the two sides.

The Ulster Volunteer Force has been blamed by senior police for igniting trouble after a second night of serious rioting in Belfast.

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said: "The UVF in east Belfast started this - there was no sense of anyone trying to finish that. Their hands are upon this, whether by direction, by omission or commission."

A 20-year-old woman was arrested on a weapons charge during the rioting, which saw youths smashing police vehicles with sledgehammers and hurling petrol bombs. A water cannon vehicle sustained a cracked windscreen and there were marks from live fire.

Mr Finlay refused to say whether the shots were fired from the nationalist Short Strand or the loyalist Newtownards Road but called for dialogue to discuss all issues behind the violence, adding: "This has got to stop, it is a time for cool heads, for people to take a step back."

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