Baton round fired as rioters ambush police following hoax
Police officers fired a baton round after coming under attack from rioters following four hours of disruption at the weekend.
As police investigated a security alert in Co Armagh on Saturday afternoon they were targeted with several paint bombs, petrol bombs and fireworks.
The railway line was closed for a time between Moira and Portadown as debris from rioters in Lurgan gathered on the tracks. Police fired one baton round and it is believed one person was hit |in the leg.
The security alert in the Antrim Road and Lake Street area, which ended at around 7.30pm, was later declared an elaborate hoax.
Six police vehicles were damaged during the disturbances but no police officers were injured. Items from the scene were removed for forensic investigation.
Area commander Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney said: “My |officers came under a sustained and heavy attack. It is our belief that the hoax was an effort to entice officers into the area to attack the very service the community tell us they want.”
He offered his gratitude to |the local community for their co-operation during the evacuation of the area.
“I would like to thank the greater community in north Lurgan for their patience and understanding,” he added.
Chair of the local policing board Michael McGoldrick said the incident was “an absolute disgrace”.
“Again here we have a minority of people bringing the north Lurgan area very negative and unwanted publicity. The whole thing was very well organised and I have no doubt it was a direct attempt to bring police into the area so they could become the target of an attack.”
The SDLP councillor added that all those on the local policing board were united in their condemnation of the disturbances. “It has gelled everyone together in their opposition to events such as this. It is very frustrating and a challenge to the DPP when things like this happen but rest assured everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet in their condemnation of the people behind it.”
While Sinn Fein councillor Johnny McGibbon also condemned the riot, he added |that police should not have |discharged a baton round in a built-up area.
“While the rioting was unjustifiable, so too was the firing of a plastic baton round in a residential area,” said Mr McGibbon.
“These weapons are notoriously inaccurate and their use in a built up area cannot be justified. Anyone close enough for a definite hit by one of these rounds was close enough to be arrested.”
Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact |them on 0845 600 8000 or to |offer information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.