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Last Updated: Monday, 23 May, 2005, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Appeal for calm after gangs clash
Riot police
Water cannon were deployed at the scene
People in north Belfast do not want a return to the dark days of sectarian conflict, a senior police officer has warned.

Police in riot gear moved in to separate rival gangs on Sunday when clashes broke out after Rangers won the Scottish Premier League title.

Officers who arrived at Ardoyne shops were confronted by a crowd of about 200 people.

Police said bottles and bricks were thrown, injuring 18 officers.

A woman officer was partially dragged from a police vehicle and had a bottle smashed over her head, while a male police officer also sustained a serious foot injury.

Two water cannon were deployed, but not used.

'Dark days'

Superintendent Gary White, the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) operations manager for north Belfast, said every effort would be made to trace those responsible.

"The community of north Belfast do not want to return to the dark days of the past," he said.

"Those with any influence within these communities must do all they can to assist the PSNI."

I condemn those who target the police who are there to protect the whole community
Security minister Shaun Woodward

Motorists were at one stage warned to avoid Twaddell Avenue, Woodvale Road and Crumlin Road at Ardoyne shopfronts.

Community representatives also attended the scene.

Separate disturbances

Meanwhile, police responding to separate disturbances in west Belfast closed security gates at Lanark Way.

Security minister Shaun Woodward said public disorder involving young people, many of whom were drunk, would not be tolerated.

"I commend the efforts of the police and public representatives from across the community who are working to restore order.

"A number of police officers have been injured and I condemn those who target the police who are there to protect the whole community."

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