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Rioting in Derry amid police raid whipped up by dissidents

'Sinister elements' behind trouble during anti-New IRA operation


Crackdown: Police conduct a search at Ballymagowan Park in Derry

Crackdown: Police conduct a search at Ballymagowan Park in Derry

Crackdown: Police conduct a search at Ballymagowan Park in Derry

Sinister elements linked to violent dissidents manipulated youths in Londonderry to attack police as they carried out a search yesterday, the PSNI has said.

A 52-year-old man was arrest by detectives investigating New IRA bomb-making activities.

There was a heavy police presence in Ballymagowan Park following the early morning arrest and search of a house, which was part of a wider investigation codenamed Operation Arbacia.

Gangs of youths attempted to hijack a BT van close to St Mary's Church in Creggan, while police came under a barrage of stones and petrol bombs close to Magowan Park.

Sinn Fein accused police of "heavy-handed tactics on women" during the raid.

The unrest and attacks bore a resemblance to a riot sparked by a similar police operation almost two years ago that culminated in the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

Police said detectives seized a considerable amount of material for further examination.

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Chief Superintendent Darrin Jones said: "The main priority for police is the safety of the local community.

"However, we strongly believe that sinister elements connected to violent dissident republicans manipulated local youths into attacking police and disrupting today's search activity.

"It is also our understanding that they attempted to disrupt local services into the area but were unsuccessful, despite some localised disorder.

"The vast majority of the public welcome the action we are taking against those who are causing serious harm to the community and it is detestable that our young people are being used in this manner."

Sinn Fein's Karen Mullan said the party will be talking to the PSNI about its handling of the incident.

The Foyle MLA said: "I am deeply concerned following reports of heavy-handed policing during an incident in Creggan today.

"The PSNI have questions to answer over scenes which appeared on social media showing officers using heavy-handed tactics on women.

"This has become symptomatic of how the PSNI carry out policing operations in Creggan and a concern which we have continually raised."

Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan had earlier appealed for parents to make sure their children were safe at home. He said: "I feel sorry and frustrated for residents of Creggan who have been subjected to this situation going on outside their front doors.

"I have spoken to the police and will do so again around what happened and how it happened.

"I don't think it's in anyone's interests, and certainly not the residents of Creggan, to have people rioting on the street.

"I have seen video footage of a number of incidents alleged to have occurred there and I will be speaking to police about those."

PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray, head of Serious Crime Branch, described the operation as a "significant development".

He said it had targeted "the New IRA's bomb-making activities as well as the group's storage of explosive devices and equipment".

Following the disturbance two men, aged 32 and 23 were charged with related offences. They are to appear in court on Friday.

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