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Petrol bombs thrown at Tiger's Bay bonfire at north Belfast interface

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Petrol bombs were thrown at the bonfire.

Petrol bombs were thrown at the bonfire.

PA Wire/PA Images

Petrol bombs were thrown at the bonfire.

Petrol bombs have been thrown at a bonfire near Duncairn Gardens as tensions increase beside a north Belfast interface.

Police and fire crews were at the scene of the bonfire on the Tiger's Bay side of Duncairn Gardens on Thursday as youths continued to stack pallets beside a peace line gate along the street.

Officers said the petrol bombs, which were thrown by three male teenagers between the ages of approximately 15 to 18 in the early hours of Thursday morning, failed to ignite and did not cause any damage.

One of the teenagers was wearing a black jacket, another was wearing a grey jacket and one was wearing a navy North Face tracksuit. All three had their faces covered and one was wearing sunglasses.

Police said a group of young people, some of whom were carrying pieces of wood, chased the other teenagers as they made off towards Lepper Street in an incident shortly after 7am.

Patrols in the area have now been stepped up by police, who said they are being supported by tactical support group colleagues.

Chief Inspector Kelly Moore said, “While I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this incident this morning to contact us with information, I again appeal for parents and guardians of young people to please ensure you know where your young people are and what they are doing.

“Police are working with local representatives, partner agencies and members of the community to address this issue, and appeal to everyone in the area to help diffuse any local tensions and prevent any further incidents criminal or anti-social behaviour.”

“I would appeal to anyone who witnessed the incident this morning, to call police on 101. A report can also be made using the online reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport. Alternatively, information can be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Earlier this week, Orange Order grand secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson called on loyalists to abandon bonfires this year due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic.

"Personally, I would prefer not to see any bonfires, because I think it is going to be hard to control crowds at them," he said. "They will naturally attract people."

Belfast City Council also held a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon on procedures to discuss what procedures will be in place to manage gatherings.

The bonfire at Tiger's Bay is not on council land. In a statement, a council spokesperson said: "Belfast City Council’s approach to managing bonfires is led by Elected Members and a Member-led decision making process has been agreed to consider issues and make decisions on a site by site basis.

"Council will continue to work in partnership with Elected Members and key stakeholders, including statutory partners and the community to minimise any potential negative impact of bonfires on local residents, businesses and property."

It had been thought bonfires would not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After some restrictions were lifted, allowing up to 30 people to meet outdoors while socially distancing, a number have been announced as going ahead, including in Belfast and Larne.

Belfast Telegraph