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East Belfast violence: 'It's over a decade into the peace process and we're still being attacked nightly'

Their homes are on the front line of a nasty and potentially deadly street battle being fought by rival factions on a nightly basis.

Since Sunday, tensions in east Belfast have soared with five police officers and a number of teenage boys injured in the disturbances.

Petrol and paint bombs have been thrown across the interface every evening, with homes on either side bombarded.

Many of those who live in the shadow of the towering so-called peace-line are young families, with parents currently too afraid to allow their children to play in the street.

The remnants of four nights of sustained attacks were obvious both in Bryson Street and Thistle Court yesterday.

Residents in both areas told of their desperation for the trouble to end, accusing outsiders of hijacking the situation.

And they were universal in their appeal for police to do more to catch those responsible.

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A man from Bryson Street said: "I've been reared in Short Strand and Bryson Street and it is genuinely frightening.

"Stress levels are very, very high. You can't leave your home through your front door. You feel trapped. I called police seven times last night. They took over an hour to respond."

A woman who lives in the same street added: "We were severely under attack last night and I couldn't get back to my own home. We're crying out for help. I think the police need to up their game. It's nightly attacks of bricks and bottles.

"We're all at our wits' end. We own our homes, we don't have the option to move."

Another said: "There are masked men involved in this. We can see them. It's not just kids. This is beyond anti-social behaviour. Last night they told us 'this is just the start of it'."

Objects were reportedly thrown from both sides yesterday morning, with council workers said to have narrowly avoided being struck while working in Thistle Court.

The residents said they felt they had been abandoned and hit out at unionist MLAs and MPs they said had failed to support them.

They formed their own group for those living on the unionist side of the divide, the Interface Residents Initiative.

A woman told this newspaper: "We're supposedly well over a decade into a peace process and our only desire is to raise our families in a peaceful and secure environment. We're being prevented from doing that with daily and nightly attacks on our homes.

"Our community feels isolated and literally under siege. We are not political, we are simply a group of parents who want to raise our families in peace."

A young father added: "Nobody is standing up for residents that's why they formed their own group. The police won't speak to us. They want to find a solution but that will never happen until they actually speak to the residents who are being attacked."


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