Someone will be killed if Derry rioting continues: Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster has said "someone will be killed" if rioting on the streets of Londonderry continues.
The DUP leader issued the warning after the sixth consecutive night of chaos in the city in which attempts were made to murder police officers with bomb-like devices.
Writing on Twitter, Mrs Foster said: "Really disturbing scenes last night in Londonderry. Someone will be killed if this continues. The main party leaders have jointly called for rioting to end. The police are risking life and limb trying to tackle this. All violence must be condemned."
The action has also been condemned by Sinn Fein's Foyle MP Elisha McCallion, who said her party's activists had been providing community support in people's homes during the disturbances, and had prevented a number of hijackings.
The PSNI said the attacks, some of which are being carried out by pre-teenage children, are being "orchestrated by a more sinister, adult, violent dissident republican element".
The trouble in the city's republican Bogside area flared from 9pm onwards with 74 petrol bombs thrown.
Rioting broke as a crowd of around 200 gathered in the area.
In one video posted to social media, a youth can be seen throwing a petrol bomb into the windscreen of a randomly passing white van.
The disruption followed the first Twelfth of July parade held in the city in five years.
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Two improvised explosive devices were thrown at police officers in what the PSNI has described as a "prolonged and sustained attack".
Police officers fired back with four plastic baton rounds and arrested three men, aged 18, 22, and 50.
The 22-year-old was arrested for attempted murder.
Supt Gordon McCalmont said: “I am saddened, disheartened and frustrated that yet again police officers committed to keeping this local community safe have been attacked by a small number of people within it.
It is nothing short of a miracle that officers were not injured. Supt Gordon McCalmont
He added: “I am asking every community leader and every single person with influence in Derry/Londonderry to help us stop these attacks on police and the wider community of the city.”
The attacks have been condemned by the Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay, who represents the PSNI rank-and-file up to the rank of Chief Inspector.
"Only through the professionalism and courage of our men and women was a tragedy averted. In the teeth of such attacks, our officers continued to safeguard people and maintain the rule of law, and that is the tribute to their focused and unwavering dedication and determination," he said.
“The terrorists who skulk in the shadows get children – some no older than twelve – to do their dirty work by firing petrol bombs, bricks and bottles at police lines. Once the police engage, the bomber and gunman take control and they really don’t care who gets in the way or who is hurt in their indiscriminate attacks.
“This is child abuse. Young, vulnerable kids are encouraged to riot and cause mayhem so that the bomber and gunman can gain a better vantage position. It is sickening what they are doing."
DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton backed the decision made by the police to use baton rounds against rioters.
He said: "I have assured the rank and file police officers of our support. With improvised explosive devices being thrown, these officers are risking life and limb to restore order. It is incumbent upon all community leaders to support these front line police officers.
"The decision to use baton rounds was right and proportionate. I welcome the arrests made. I condemn the faceless people who are manipulating this violence. Whatever their dissatisfaction with their current political leaders, the goal of their rioting is pointless. They are destroying their own community infrastructure. Ordinary people coming home from a day’s work were having their vehicles attacked.
"I understand that with the risk of further gunfire, police tactics have to include caution but I have encouraged the police to make more arrests and whatever appropriate means needed should be used to protect officers and bring an end to the rioting.
"We need to tackle this violence. It is absolute madness.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital