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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 04:22 GMT 05:22 UK
Three hurt in Belfast shootings
Houses were set on fire by petrol bombs on Sunday
Houses were petrol bombed in earlier trouble
Three people have been injured in shooting incidents as sectarian violence flared for the fourth night running in east Belfast.

In the first incident, two men were shot in the back and foot in Cluan Place as rival republican and loyalist gangs clashed near the Short Strand area.

Two hours later at 8.30pm, a bus driver was injured by flying glass when his vehicle came under attack from a gunman in Lower Newtownards Road.

Colin Cramphorn: Warning
At one stage up to 1,000 people were involved in hand-to-hand fighting in the Short Strand and Albertbridge Road area.

There had been a heavy police and Army presence in east Belfast throughout the day after three Protestants were injured in Cluan Place on Sunday night in a shooting incident.

Sectarian tensions boiled over between nationalists and loyalists after an uneasy day in the flashpoint area.

Loyalists had been celebrating the Queen's Jubilee with street parties off Newtownards Road despite the presence of police and Army Land Rovers in the area.

'Into the abyss'

Community leaders and politicians appealed for calm following a weekend of violence.

Assistant chief constable Colin Cramphorn urged both communities to pull back, warning them that they were "sleepwalking into the abyss".

Mark Durkan, leader of the nationalist SDLP, also condemned the violence and accused paramilitaries of trying to exploit the situation.

Mr Durkan, the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, said: "We have to be in a peace process to remove all violence from our streets and not to pretend that there are permissible forms of violence or accepted locations for it.

"People of all backgrounds and persuasions have the right to live in peace and safety in their own homes and streets.

"It seems clear that different paramilitary elements are prepared to ferment tension and trouble in the hope that they will profit from the fall-out."

Danger

The violence was also described as "mindless" by Northern Ireland security minister Jane Kennedy.

She urged both sides to stop, claiming the violence served no other purpose but to damage communities.

"Anyone engaged in such mindless violence must face up to the possibility that a life may be lost or serious injury could be caused," she said.

"No grievance exists that can possibly justify such an outcome."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Denis Murray
"It is clearly a matter of major concern"
See also:

02 Jun 02 | N Ireland
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