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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 14:38 GMT
Bomb explodes in teenager's hand
Flowers were laid near the scene of the death
Flowers were laid near the scene
The police have released the name of a 16-year-old youth who died after a home-made bomb exploded in his hand during sectarian clashes in north Belfast.

Glen Hugh Branagh, a Protestant, from Mountcollyer Avenue died in hospital after sustaining serious head and arm injuries when the improvised device went off during violence in North Queen Street.

The police say they were being attacked by a crowd of Protestants at the sectarian flashpoint when the device exploded.

A teenager and a man who were caught in the blast were also injured.

Sustained rioting followed the incident on Sunday afternoon, involving up to 400 people at its height.

RUC Assistant Chief Constable
Alan McQuillan: "We believe the device was intended for us"

According to the police, 24 police officers and two soldiers were injured as they tried to contain the violence.

Christine Dicks, a friend of Mr Branagh's family, said they were devastated by his death.

"I was the one that broke the news to his mother. I'll never forget it till God calls me. Never. Anybody that's a mother can understand", she said.

The trouble erupted when loyalists and republicans clashed after a Remembrance Day service.

Both sides have blamed each other for the violence.

The police said a number of their officers had seen the youth, who was masked, "move forward with what appeared to be a pipe bomb in his hand" when it exploded.

'Throw it away'

Assistant Chief Constable for Belfast Alan McQuillan said the device exploded as the youth was about to throw it.

"We believe that the device was intended for us," he said.

"There have been allegations from the Protestant side that this device was thrown at them by the Catholics and he was throwing it back.

"We disagree with that. We were there and saw quite clearly what was happening," he said.

But Eddie McClean, a Protestant community worker from the area, denied the youth had been preparing to throw the bomb when it exploded.

He said the device had initially been thrown by Catholics and the youth was merely trying to throw it away.

Sinn Fein assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly denied loyalist claims that the pipe bomb which killed the teenager had been thrown by republicans.

Once again it shows that sectarian violence brings nothing but pain and grief to communities that have suffered far too much already

Jane Kennedy,
Northern Ireland Security Minister

"I can tell you with absolute certainty it was not thrown from the nationalist side. The bomb was at the loyalist end."

Widespread disorder continued in the area, with petrol, blast and paint bombs thrown, although riot police moved in to keep the factions apart.

An 11-year-old boy was treated in hospital for a leg injury, which Catholic residents said was caused by a plastic baton round.

Eight police vehicles were damaged and two cars burnt out as more than 50 petrol bombs were hurled by the rival factions.

A police spokesman confirmed that nine plastic baton rounds had been fired by officers during the violence.

'Tragic happening'

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, of the DUP, described the teenager's death as a terrible tragedy.

"I have been saying that a life could be lost in the rioting and this has now occurred.

"Clearly there will have to be a full investigation into the circumstances as to exactly what happened.

"We need to establish the truth. It is a tragic happening and I would appeal to people not to get involved in trouble."

Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy said: "Once again it shows that sectarian violence brings nothing but pain and grief to communities that have suffered far too much already."

The BBC's Matt Gardner
"Politicians have been warning for months that rioting would ultimately end in loss of life"
The BBC's Jane Hughes
"Police said a crude pipe bomb had exploded in his hand"
See also:

12 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Dispute school security criticised
12 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA linked to Belfast rioting
27 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Belfast riots 'will lead to death'
24 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Police hurt in violent clashes
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