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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
Fresh violence in Belfast
Trouble flared in several parts of north Belfast
Trouble flared in several parts of the city
Disorder has broken out in north Belfast after a day of heightened sectarian tension in the area.

Petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and stones rained down on police in the Ardoyne area and officers reported hearing gun shots.

An RUC spokeswoman said several officers had been injured in the trouble but none is believed to be seriously hurt.

A Catholic parent tries to take his child to school
The route of Catholic school children was blocked by demonstrators
Earlier in the day, loyalist demonstrators blocked the route of Catholic children trying to reach their school through a mainly Protestant area.

The children, some as young as four, came under a hail of abuse and missiles from placard-waving protesters as they started the first day of the new term at Holy Cross girls primary school.

On Monday evening a crowd of about 200 people gathered and police said there was stone throwing and incidents of serious disorder in several parts of the city.

In Ardoyne, trouble began at about 1800 and loyalist protestors threw a number of petrol bombs at the security forces

Stones were thrown for more than an hour by both nationalists and loyalists at the junction of Ardoyne Road and Alliance Avenue.

Pipe bomb

Violence also flared around North Queen Street and in Limestone Road.

Police confirmed that a pipe bomb exploded in the garden of a house in the White City area.

Loyalists said their homes in the Glenbryn estate were attacked.

Unionist politicians blamed republicans for orchestrating the violence, but Sinn Fein blamed the largest loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Billy Hutchinson, an Assembly member for north Belfast who represents the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party, claimed the trouble began when nationalists attacked a community centre, causing a full scale riot.

"The police are allowing republicans to carry out attack after attack on the Protestant community," he said.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party said he saw petrol bombs and blast bombs being thrown by nationalist mobs into the loyalist White City Estate.

Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness said attacks on the Catholic community, which it claims are being carried out by the UDA, are designed to provoke the IRA into retaliation and accused unionist politicians of fuelling its campaign.

"It is no coincidence that the upsurge in loyalist attacks and threats directed at republicans and nationalists has coincided with David Trimble's agenda to collapse the political institutions," he said.

Alternative route

The trouble follows loyalists attempts to block Catholic children from getting to a school in the loyalist Glenbryn area on Monday morning.

The police and army moved about 200 residents from area who were blocking the Ardoyne Road near the school.

The security forces put up barriers to keep a corridor open for the Catholic pupils who were able to get to school at about 0900 BST.

As they passed, the protesters hurled abuse and there were some heated exchanges.

On Monday afternoon, the younger classes were brought out of the school by a back way through another school.

The governors of the primary school have urged parents to take their children by an alternative route on Tuesday in a bid to avoid a repeat of the violence.

The BBC's Mark Devonport reports from Belfast
"Relations between the communities could hardly be worse"
BBC NI's Mervyn Jess:
reports from the scene
See also:

02 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Mayor calls meeting over riots
02 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Arsonists target Catholic Church
31 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist violence threat to peace
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