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The BBC's Nick Bryant reports from Belfast
"A menacing backdrop for the political talks resuming today"
 real 56k

The BBC's Andrew Gilligan
"A night of very serious rioting"
 real 28k

Friday, 13 July, 2001, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
Police injured in Belfast riots
North Belfast riot
Protestors attacked the police with petrol bombs
Serious rioting by nationalists in north Belfast has left 113 police officers injured following the climax of the Protestant marching season.

Blast and petrol bombs were thrown during the violence, which lasted seven hours in the Catholic Ardoyne district.

Water cannon were used and 48 plastic bullets were fired by police after nationalist protesters broke through security force lines separating a passing Orange Order parade from residents who opposed part of its route.

One officer was seriously injured after being attacked with a pickaxe handle and two others were set alight by petrol bombs.

We were attacked with paint bombs, we were attacked with acid bombs, petrol bombs

Alan McQuillan
Belfast assistant chief constable

The disturbances come as politicians from the province gather again at Weston Park in Staffordshire to try to break the deadlock in the peace process.

A spokesman for the Royal Ulster Constabulary said that 19 officers required hospital treatment.

When the police withdrew from the group of around 200 protesters, a mob of youths attacked a petrol station, throwing petrol bombs and burning out the inside of the garage.

'Safe passage'

Fire crews were brought in but only after being guaranteed safe passage by a Sinn Fein assembly member.

Belfast assistant chief constable Alan McQuillan said that nationalist protesters at Ardoyne Road began attacking police as they attempted to cordon off the area ahead of the return of local lodges.

"We moved in with the intention of ensuring there was a safe passage for the parade," he said.

"We were attacked with paint bombs, we were attacked with acid bombs, petrol bombs."

A rioter throws a missile at the police in Ardoyne
Riot: RUC officers came under missile attack

The RUC estimate that around 263 petrol bombs were thrown during the clashes which continued until late into the night.

Some nationalist residents say the police baton-charged them off the road and into a side street.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein assembly member for North Belfast, accused the RUC of exacerbating the situation by opening up with water cannon and beating people with batons.

Fought with pikes

Earlier in the evening, seven people were injured during fighting which broke out as the Belfast Orange parade was returning to the city centre.

Some bandsmen clashed with rival loyalist bystanders in the Shaftsbury Square area.

The police said some people were fighting with ceremonial pikes and swords, and with banner poles.

Elsewhere, nationalists and loyalists clashed in the Short Strand/lower Newtownards Road area of east Belfast and in Ballycastle.

Earlier, police and soldiers were attacked with petrol bombs in Lurgan after an army patrol discovered a blast bomb.

The contentious marching season has been marked by fewer protests than in previous years - but marred by sporadic violence.

On Wednesday, security forces used water cannon against loyalists after being attacked with a blast bomb at an Eleventh Night bonfire in Portadown.

However, RUC Deputy Assistant Chief Constable Cyril Donnan said claims that police used excessive force were "absolute nonsense" and that the violence was orchestrated.

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13 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
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