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16-year-old in hospital after baton rounds fired

A teenager is being treated in hospital following claims he was hit with a baton round during weekend rioting in west Belfast.



It is claimed he and another man, who was also hospitalised but later released, were struck by baton rounds fired by police.

Police have confirmed that they fired two baton rounds on Saturday night and that two men were taken to hospital with injuries.

The PSNI came under sustained attack on Saturday night from a 100-strong crowd throwing stones, fireworks, paint and petrol bombs.

A total of six officers and nine police vehicles were damaged at Broadway near the M1.

The use of Attenuated Energy Projectiles (AEPs), more commonly known as plastic baton rounds, is being investigated by the Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's office, routine procedure whenever the police discharge a firearm.

Jim McCabe of victims’ group Relatives for Justice said the use of baton rounds was incompatible with human rights.

He added: “On Saturday evening PSNI members shot a number of plastic bullets in the Broadway area of West Belfast. One of those bullets hit a 16-year-old from the Clonard area, he is currently in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“Again and again we have been assured by chief and assistant chief constables and secretaries of state that plastic bullets will not be used in riot or civic disturbance situation. But yet again we see that as soon as a disturbance emerges they are the PSNI’s weapon of first resort.”

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has accused dissidents of trying to exploit tensions in west Belfast and encouraging sectarianism.

The MP said career criminals were also involved in the trouble at the weekend and he said “a bit of sense” was needed.

“This is a very good neighbourhood and there is an ongoing contact to try and keep calm, particularly during times of heightened sectarian tensions like the Twelfth,” he said.

“According to local people there were others purporting to be from so-called dissident groups who were clearly seeking to encourage the young people in particular.”

Meanwhile the Police Ombudsman appealed for witnesses to the rioting to come forward.

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