Rioting yobs spark a night of mayhem in Londonderry
A drugs bust in a house where a suspect firearm was also discovered in the Galliagh area of Londonderry is believed to have been the catalyst for a night of violence during which the emergency service came under attack.
Police carried out a search in a property in Altcar Park on Thursday night where a small amount of cannabis and an imitation firearm were removed.
A gang of young people descended and threw missiles at the police, smashing the windscreen in one vehicle.
From 6.30pm the situation escalated into a night of mayhem which brought up to 100 youths onto the streets of Galliagh, where they blocked Moss Road with burning pallets, attacked the Fire Service and bombarded the police with a deluge of paint bombs, stones and bottles.
A number of windows at St Paul's Primary School were also smashed and property removed from people's homes and thrown on the burning blockades.
The behaviour was branded as "wanton thuggery" by terrified and angry residents.
Philomena McGarvey said the young people were completely out of control.
She said: "I have lived here for the past seven years and I think that was among the worst rioting I have ever witnessed; no one could control them, they were like wild animals, and some of them were young teens, although there were a fair few older ones there too.
"They set fire to the pallet but when the Fire Brigade arrived they attacked them too, and I saw them running in and out of people's gardens looking for stuff to burn.
"Savages, that's the only way I could describe them."
Many local community workers and political representatives were out at the scene attempting to quell the situation.
Among them was SDLP councillor Brian Tierney, who appealed for calm and no repeat of the violence.
He said: "The scenes of destruction on the streets of Galliagh were a disgrace. Residents were absolutely terrified in their homes as they could only watch as their community was destroyed.
"That is absolutely unacceptable and there's a real fear that the disorder could spread.
"What's needed now is calm.
"I would appeal to those involved in the disorder to show some respect for the community that they live in and the facilities that we all share.
"This behaviour must stop. I will continue to work with residents to do all we can to bring the disorder to an end."
Superintendent Mark McEwan appealed for help from the community.
He said: "It's important to note that police were in the area carrying out searches to remove drugs from the streets when they were attacked by youths.
"The windscreen of a police Land Rover was damaged and paint bombs were thrown at police vehicles as officers then dealt with a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage in the Galliagh area."
Two people, a 33-year-old man and a 57- year-old woman arrested following the house search at Altcar Park, have been released on police bail pending further enquiries.