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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 06:27 GMT 07:27 UK
Rioters throw blast bombs
Rioters on the streets of Belfast
Violence flared as rival groups began throwing stones
Petrol bombs, acid and at least one blast bomb have been thrown by loyalists during rioting in east and north Belfast.

The police and army were attacked with bricks and bottles when they tried to disperse the rioters on the Newtownards Road.

On Monday, loyalists claimed shots were fired at them in the area from the nearby nationalist Short Strand.

The Progressive Unionist Party's David Ervine accused the IRA of being responsible for that incident.

"It was a fairly murderous attack," he said.

I think it is incumbent upon everybody to remain calm

David Ervine
"It comes on the back of already fraught circumstances and I think it is incumbent on everyone to try to ensure things stay as calm as possible."

The disturbances follow further trouble between loyalist and republican groups in the north of the city during which a number of RUC officers were injured.

Petrol and acid bombs were thrown during rioting at Limestone Road, Duncairn Gardens, Halliday's Road and North Queen Street.

The violence, which began when rival groups began throwing stones, bottles and bricks at each other, led to a buffer zone being installed by riot police in North Queen Street.

Both sides have blamed each other for starting the attacks.

Sinn Fein councillor Gerard Brophy said loyalists came through the peaceline to attack nationalist homes.

Battle royale

"Well-known UDA figures have been seen among these crowds who have been orchestrating it for the past number of weeks."

Police in riot gear
Police were pelted with bricks and bottles
However, Tiger's Bay community worker Eddie McClean said nationalists started the trouble.

"What happened is that four young fellas from the republican side came in and attacked some of the houses in Tiger's Bay," he said.

"Some of the youths chased them out and when they did, off went the whistle and out came the mobile mobs from republican Sinn Fein and a battle royale pursued after that."

The violence comes days after widespread trouble on 12 July when the RUC tried to clear nationalist protesters who blocked the route of local Orangemen returning home from their annual parades.

Police said more than 100 officers were injured in last week's rioting.

The BBC's Mark Devenport
"The violence followed an evening of tension"
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