Paramilitaries suspected as crowds attack police - Police fend off 40 masked yobs
Police put out fires and used patrol vehicle to stop public cars getting damaged
Police are investigating possible paramilitary involvement after officers were pelted with bricks, bottle and fireworks in Larne.
Officers in the Co Antrim town were attacked by as many as 40 yobs with their faces covered.
The incident started in the Linn Road and Antiville Road areas of the town, and saw wheelie bins set alight, bricks thrown, and the fire service called to stop a gorse fire breaking out.
Police have said they will investigate whether there was possible paramilitary involvement in the incident.
Responding at around 10.45pm, police found wheelie bins set on fire and being used as a burning barricade on Linn Road.
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) was called to extinguish the fire.
A crowd of between 30 and 40 individuals with their faces covered gathered close to the community centre, throwing bricks, bottles and fireworks at police patrols in the area.
A petrol bomb thrown failed to ignite.
Superintendent Darrin Jones said: “Police also had to intervene during this violence and extinguish a fire that was started in an area of gorse and threatened to spread to a nearby wooded area.
“At one point, a police Land Rover positioned itself to be the focus of incoming missiles - in order to protect other vehicles belonging to members of the public which were unable to turn and leave the area.
“During the course of the evening, at least four vehicles were driven at speed around the area. Police restored order and the area was quiet by 12.45am."
Police later recovered three claw hammers in the area as well as a stockpile of bricks, which were being used as weapons.
“This was a reckless and totally unacceptable night of violence that posed serious danger to members of the public, police officers – and indeed those who were taking part in it," Superintendent Jones said.
“I would urge the community in Larne to reject these people who last night caused such fear and distress to local residents, as well as recking and terrorising the area they live in. And I would also call on people of influence in the area to intervene.
“I need to stress that while officers are dealing with this kind of criminal behaviour they are unable to provide other vital policing services to the community in order to keep them safe.
"I want to reassure the people of Larne that we are taking what happened last night very seriously and are committed to bringing those responsible before the courts.
“We are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry - including that there was paramilitary involvement in last night’s incidents."
Anyone with information about Wednesday night's incident is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101.
Alternatively information can be given to independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Belfast Telegraph Digital