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Shots, bombs and stones in a day of violent mayhem

By Emily Moulton and Lisa Smyth

A senior policeman has hit out at those responsible for the gun attack against officers on patrol in Craigavon last night by describing their actions as “attempted murder”.

Deputy District Commander Supt Alan McCrum was speaking after four to five shots were fired at police in the Brownlow Road area of the town just before 8pm.

The gun attack followed a day of escalating violence which saw police investigating claims that a bomb had been left in the Tullygally and Drumbeg areas of Craigavon.

A blast bomb was thrown at officers as well as numerous bottles, stones and a number of petrol bombs.

Numerous police vehicles were damaged as a result of the trouble, although there were no immediate reports of any injuries. A number of cars were also hijacked and burnt out.

A 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of hijacking and the public were advised to avoid the area as efforts continued to bring the situation under control.

Police Board member Dolores Kelly also came under attack from a gang of youths in Lurgan.

The SDLP MLA was returning to her car following a meeting with the local Parish Priest over vandalism at the graveyard.

She managed to escape serious injury but was hurt during the incident.

Earlier she had condemned the violent outbreaks in the areas.

“Those responsible obviously do not care about the damage and disruption caused and have no consideration for the wishes of the local community,” she said.

“Neighbourhood police teams in Craigavon have in recent times worked alongside communities to tackle problems such as anti-social behaviour and other low level crimes. Local people want to continue building and developing these relationships. It is clear that some elements in the community see this growing relationship as a threat.

“The message from the community must be that those responsible have no mandate, no authority, and no support.”

Yesterday’s violence followed petrol bomb attacks on police in nationalist areas of south and east Belfast late on Monday night.

Roads were closed to traffic when crowds of youths turned on police after they moved in to stop the stoning of cars passing the Markets and Short Strand areas.

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey condemned those responsible for what he called “wanton disregard of the good name of their area, never mind the safety of people passing”.

He added: “It is very disappointing that we had a number of young people gathered last night who started to throw stones and other missiles at passing vehicles, some of which contained families and young children.

“It is just unacceptable and very, very regrettable that what was a small number of young people have caused this damage.”

He said it flew in the face of the efforts of people in the nationalist areas to work with young people and provide activities for them.

Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd called for an end to the unrest and said he was disappointed trouble had flared.

“Reports of the use of a blast bomb indicate that one of the micro-republican organisations are involved and I am just thankful that no was injured or killed as a result of this attack,” he said.

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