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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Violence 'worst for years'
Vehicles have been hijacked in east Belfast
Vehicles have been hijacked in east Belfast
Recent trouble in east Belfast has been among the worst witnessed in the last four years, according to Acting Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn.

There has been sectarian violence in the Newtownards Road and Short Strand areas for the last six nights.

Six people have been shot since Sunday evening.

On Wednesday night, a young couple narrowly escaped injury when a bullet was fired through their window in the Short Strand area.

Colin Cramphorn: Acting chief constable
Colin Cramphorn: Briefed policing board on the violence in east Belfast

Speaking at a public meeting of the policing board, he said 28 officers had been injured over the past month, one of them with a gunshot wound.

Mr Cramphorn said 40 shots were fired by both sides during the same period and six civilians had been shot.

Forty shots were fired, as well as pipe and petrol bombs thrown.

Mr Cramphorn said training was under way in the use of two water cannon borrowed from Belgium, but that it would be almost a year before the PSNI would have their own vehicles.

On Thursday, loyalist women held a peaceful protest on the Newtownards Road against alleged attacks on their homes by the nationalist community.

Meeting

Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble has accused the IRA of organising the violence in east Belfast.

His comments followed a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street on Wednesday to discuss worsening violence in Belfast.

The first minister called on the government and the Northern Ireland Office to issue a strong response to the involvement of paramilitary organisations in the recent violence.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams accused David Trimble of taking a partisan position over the rioting.

David Trimble after meeting Tony Blair in London
David Trimble: Wants government action

A stand-off took place between loyalist protesters and security forces on the Lower Newtownards Road on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, nearby Saint Matthew's Catholic church was attacked with stones and bottles during disturbances.

They were thrown at the church while a funeral was taking place inside.

Both sides blamed each other for starting the trouble.

Trucks and a bus were hijacked by loyalists who blocked the Lower Newtownards Road and Templemore Avenue.

On Tuesday, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid held talks with loyalists and republicans in an attempt to end the rioting in east Belfast.

The police have confirmed loyalist and republican paramilitaries were behind the violence.

See also:

05 Jun 02 | N Ireland
04 Jun 02 | N Ireland
04 Jun 02 | N Ireland
02 Jun 02 | N Ireland
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