Belfast Telegraph

Police attacked and shots fired in a night of violence

Police Land Rovers parked in front of a burning hijacked car
Police Land Rovers parked in front of a burning hijacked car

By Leona O'Neill and David Young

Shots were fired during disorder in Londonderry last night, just hours after the third most powerful politician in the US had praised peace in the city.

Police came under attack from petrol bombers as a woman was rushed to hospital in a PSNI Land Rover.

It was not clear if she had been injured by the bullet.

Footage uploaded to social media showed police Land Rovers being pelted with petrol bombs, fireworks and other debris in the Creggan area following a police operation in Mulroy Gardens.

PSNI officers were searching houses in the Creggan when the disorder broke out.

An Army bomb disposal team was also at the scene.

Two hijacked vehicles - a car and van - were also set on fire in nearby Fanad Drive.

An eyewitness said that since the unrest began at around 7.45pm last night, dozens of petrol bombs had been thrown at police during street disorder.

Between 15 and 20 armoured PSNI Land Rovers were in the area, an eyewitness said.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton told the Belfast Telegraph that the rioters had caused "significant disruption and residents were being badly affect by the unrest".

"I'm also concerned that PSNI officers have been put in danger, as have the general public in the area," he said. No one wants this kind of violence on our streets."

Last night, the PSNI appealed for calm and confirmed a number of shots had been fired and petrol bombs thrown in the Creggan area.

Superintendent Alan Hutton said: "We are currently responding to reports that a member of the public has been injured and I would appeal for calm."

The Police Federation said there was "absolutely no excuse" for attacking the PSNI.

"They are protecting that community and aren't there for the good of their health," a spokesperson tweeted.

"Such behaviour should be roundly condemned."

The unrest came just hours after US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi walked across the Peace Bridge over the River Foyle in Derry and expressed pride in her country's role in ending the Troubles.

Tensions have been rising in the city in the run up to the Easter weekend.

Dissident republican group Saoradh had warned that the blame for any unrest surrounding a planned 1916 commemoration procession on Easter Monday would rest with what it called 'British Crown forces".

The parade had been deemed unlawful, as the Parades Commission had not been notified. Last year, the same parade was surrounded by trouble, with police petrol bombed when they moved in to deal with the march from the Creggan to the city cemetery.

Mr Hutton said earlier this week that attempts to engage with parade organisers had proved futile.

Mr Middleton added: "The PSNI now have a big job, not only to ensure public safety, but to reassure the public that the law will be respected."

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