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Sunday, 2 June, 2002, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Fresh violence in Belfast
Riot police retreat from riot scene in east Belfast
Police were attacked with bricks and blast bombs
Police have come under attack while dealing with sectarian clashes in north Belfast.

A crowd of about 200 Catholics and Protestants began fighting in the Whitewell Road area at 1530 BST on Sunday.

As police moved in to clear the crowds, they had bricks, stones and petrol bombs thrown at them.

A police service spokesman said no officers were injured.

Two men were arrested and charged with riotous behaviour.

PUP leader David Ervine
David Ervine called for calm
There were also reports of minor disturbances in the east of the city on Sunday.

This followed another night of violence in the Short Strand area.

Police came under renewed attack from groups of rioting youths on Saturday night.

Gangs threw missiles at police and soldiers during the disturbances.

Bricks, bottles, petrol bombs and fireworks were thrown at security lines.

There were no reports of any injuries and order was later restored to the area which has been the focus for sectarian fighting in recent weeks.

On the previous night, 10 police officers were injured during sectarian rioting in the same area.

Trouble between republicans and loyalists broke out in the Bryson Street area of the republican Short Strand shortly after 1800 BST on Friday.

Two blast bombs were thrown at police by loyalists at the lower end of the Newtownards Road and the police said shots were fired by both nationalists and loyalists.

Rival groups of about 50 on each side threw stones, bottles and ball-bearings at each other.

The violence erupted while loyalists in the area were putting up flags and bunting for the Queen's Jubilee celebrations.

However, both sides have blamed each other for starting the trouble.

Riot police came under attack from youths throwing missiles and a vehicle was set alight.

One of the blast bombs thrown hit a police landrover injuring the driver.

Heavy-handed

Inspector Kevin Smyth said the injuries could have been much worse.

"Thankfully, the injuries look not to be too serious at this stage but if you look at the damage caused to the vehicles these are deadly devices," he said.

PSNI Inspector Kevin Smyth
Inspector Smyth: "These are deadly devices"

"It is only by the grace of God this evening that we have not got very seriously injured officers."

Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine, who was at the scene, accused the police of being heavy-handed.

"I have no doubt that the police, not as usual, but quite often get it wrong, and they got it wrong tonight," he said.

A police spokesman refuted the allegations.

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