Belfast Telegraph

Youth sets himself on fire while trying to set alight hijacked van in Derry

By Leona O'Neill

A youth set himself on fire last night while trying to set a hijacked van ablaze in Londonderry's Bogside.

Police also said a number of shots were fired at officers in the city in what has been described as a "blatant bid to murder police".

The hooded youth, who had his face covered with a scarf, was attempting to ignite a Housing Executive maintenance van using a petrol can and a lit petrol bomb.

Instead, he set his tracksuit bottoms on fire at the bottom of the Lecky Road flyover during a fifth night of disturbances in the area.

The youth disappeared into a side street and it is unclear if he sought medical attention.

The van had been hijacked yesterday afternoon by two masked gunmen in Creggan.

The gunmen abandoned the vehicle in the Bogside in view of the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, and the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown. They were visiting the area to meet people living along the interface who had been affected by the disturbances.

The bishops issued a joint statement condemning the trouble and urging parents to use their influence to stop it.

"The continuing attacks on the Fountain - indeed, attacks on people in any part of our community - are an affront to our society and deserve our unqualified condemnation," the two bishops said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MLA said those behind the hijacking were "gangsters".

"It is absolutely disgraceful that the driver was intimidated from his work van at gunpoint," he said.

"Derry has suffered enough over the years without gangsters pulling reckless stunts like this, achieving nothing other than bringing the name of a great city into disrepute. These gangsters must realise that there is no gain in this behaviour, but simply more and more loss for the city and its residents."

An emergency meeting of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership has been called for this morning to discuss the nightly disturbances in the Bogside and attacks on the predominantly Protestant Fountain estate.

Two police officers were injured during Monday's trouble. PSNI Chief Inspector Alan Hutton said he was proud of how his officers "stood in the face of danger".

Following Monday night's trouble, a 16-year-old youth was charged with disorderly behaviour, assault on police, resisting police and possessing offensive weapon in a public place.

A 50-year-old man was charged with intentionally encouraging or assisting a riot in connection with street disturbances in the same area in May.

A 20-year-old man also arrested remains in police custody. Two boys aged 17 and 15 were also arrested yesterday in connection with Monday's disorder.

Trouble flared on Monday just hours after Bogside residents held a solidarity rally with people living in the Fountain.

Up to 100 Bogside residents - including Martin McGuinness' two sons Emmet and Fiachra - and nationalist and republican political representatives walked in unison from the Bogside, past Alexander House care home, which has borne the brunt of the violence, to the peace line on Bishop Street.

Yesterday, a dissident republican political group warned that the arrests had "done nothing but embolden young people and ensure that there will be further violence in the coming days".

Saoradh said up until the arrests, they had "got a reassurance from the youths that the Fountain would not be targeted again".

"The young people we spoke to stressed that Alexander House was never their intended target and unfortunately the RUC parked their Land Rovers there during previous nights," claimed Saoradh spokesman Paddy Gallagher.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph