Dissident republicans who shot at police overnight are no better than the Daesh terror group, a senior officer said.
More than 100 petrol bombs were thrown at the PSNI during five hours of "serious and sustained" violence in Lurgan in Co Armagh, Superintendent David Moore said. They had been lured into the area by a bomb warning which was intended to confuse police. A potentially explosive device was found near the railway line.
At least one round was fired at officers during resultant serious disorder.
Mr Moore said: "The people that are behind this have no ideology, they have nothing to offer, in many respects they can be compared to Daesh, they have got little to offer but destruction in their own communities."
Daesh is a name for the terror group also known as Islamic State which is fighting for territory in Iraq and Syria.
Lurgan has been targeted many times before for dissident republican violence.
Twenty five paint bombs, bricks and other masonry were also hurled by a large and aggressive crowd which gathered at around 9pm and remained until the early hours of the morning at Lake Street.
No officers or members of the public were injured, however police vehicles were damaged.
Mr Moore said: "We are very lucky not only to be dealing with the loss of life or serious injury to a police officer but we could be dealing with any member of the community in the same position this morning."
Helicopter air support, specially trained riot police from other parts of Northern Ireland and dog teams had to be brought to deal with the trouble.
The suspected device caused disruption after the railway line between Belfast and Dublin was closed.
The senior officer added: "This was done for no other reason than to bring my officers into the particular place in Lurgan in order to attack them."
He said: "The work of dissident republicans is evident here, not in any way organised, because it is the easiest thing to drop something on a railway line and have someone drunk batter on the window of a crossing guard's booth.
"It is the easiest thing to make phone calls...to try their best to confuse the police response.
"Eventually we deployed in a very careful, tactically sound way and what did we find? Five hours of sustained violence waiting for us."
He said the rioters included young easily influenced men and bewildered older men who have not realised that the world has moved on.
Police later said the security alert in Lake Street, Lurgan, had ended. Two suspicious objects have been examined and declared as hoaxes.
All evacuated residents are now able to return to their homes and the train line has reopened.