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September 10, 2005

Loyalist Fire on Police & Civilians

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IO 09/10/05 Loyalists Gunmen Open Fire In Belfast Riot


Injuries Reported After Gunfire At Belfast Riots
2005-09-10 21:20:02+01

Police and civilians were injured as loyalist gunmen opened
fire during ferocious rioting on the streets of Belfast

A barrage of blast and petrol bombs was also hurled at
officers and soldiers as violence erupted over a bitterly
disputed Orange Order parade.

Two men were taken to hospital, one with a gunshot wound
and the other seriously injured after being caught by one
of the explosions.

Up to six police officers were also hurt in some of the
most serious disorder in Belfast for years.

Plastic bullets and water cannon were deployed in a bid to
halt the mayhem. Cars were hijacked and a bus set alight as
chaos spread across west and north Belfast. Major roads
were also blocked off, threatening huge traffic

Police could not confirm the extent of the officers'
injuries, although at least one was taken away by ambulance
with head wounds.

Bullets and bombs struck a number of armoured Landrovers.
At one stage men and women had to take cover behind their
vehicles amid the gunfire, a security source said.

Loyalist factions also clashed briefly with nationalists
opposed to the controversial Whiterock Parade.

Orangemen and their supporters had been incensed by a
Parades Commission decision to reroute the march following
opposition from nationalist residents. Instead of passing
through security gates onto the Springfield Road, marchers
were told to go through the site of the former engineering
firm, Mackies.

As they made their way through, crowds on both sides
taunted each other.

The gates at Workman Avenue locked to keep loyalists out
were pounded sporadically. But the trouble was at its
height further up on the North Circular Road, where the gun
and bomb attacks were concentrated.

Police fired baton rounds at rioters as the violence

Disturbances then spread to the Upper Crumlin Road/Hesketh
Road junction of north Belfast, with security forces pelted
by more petrol bombs and stones. A vehicle was hijacked and
set on fire at police lines, a PSNI spokesman said. One of
the force's water cannon was damaged during the gunfire, he

Three more cars were reported on fire on the Ardoyne Road,
while a burning bus blocked off North Queen Street, close
to the city centre.

Before the march reached the most hotly disputed section,
some clashes were reported.

Sinn Féin claimed hundreds of loyalists emerged from the
Sandy Row district and attacked nationalists on the
Grosvenor Road.

Police Landrovers were brought in to keep the two sides
apart and clear the main Westlink motoring route through
the city. But Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann questioned
how the loyalists managed to get through.

"There must have been 500 of them allowed to walk into a
nationalist area," he claimed.

Disturbances at the Short Strand/Albertbridge Road
peaceline in east Belfast were also contained by police.

Further road blocks took place at Ligoniel and the Crumlin
Road in the north, and at the city centre Shaftesbury

The gunfire confirmed fears that loyalist paramilitaries
planned to take to the streets.

Thousands of Protestants had been expected at a major rally
in north-west Belfast to protest at the parade ban.

Meanwhile, the Orange Order claimed nationalists attacked
their marchers in east and west Belfast. They also accused
police of failing to protect them during incidents on the
Albertbridge and Grosvenor Roads.

A spokesman claimed when marchers approached the Grosvenor
Road only one police vehicle was there and police were
powerless to protect them.

He said: "Yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable Duncan
McCausland gave repeated assurances to the public via media
interviews that he had sufficient manpower and resources to
deal with any eventuality that might arise.

"Clearly Mr McCausland is not up to managing the situation
and containing nationalists bent on causing trouble. The
PSNI's (Police Service of Northern Ireland) response to
these troublemakers is both scandalous and pathetic."

DUP leader Ian Paisley, who was due to address the rally at
Woodvale Park, claimed the security operation stopped
Orangemen from attending. He also hit out at the
authorities behind the re-route, accusing them of treating
marchers shamefully.

He said: "The Parades Commission are to blame for the mess
that has been created. The commission treated elected
representatives with contempt by its refusal to even call
us to put our case. We were refused the opportunity to give
greater detail.

"At this difficult time I am appealing to all law abiding
people to remain calm."

But Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey challenged Mr
Paisley, Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey and Orange Order
chief Dawson Bailey to condemn the rioting.

He said: "The widespread disruption and attacks are not
just an attempt to terrorise the nationalist community, but
they are an attack on the whole community. Unionist leaders
must make it clear that there can be no justification for
such actions, and that they stand against this violence and

SDLP representatives also issued a strong condemnation of
the violence.

West Belfast councillor Tim Attwood said: "We appeal for
calm from all sides. The loyalist violence which has
erupted is completely wrong and must stop. The loyalists
responsible for this trouble are out to raise tensions and
cause serious damage. Political and community leaders from
all sides must work hard to ensure calm prevails across the
city tonight."

Meanwhile, a disused garage was set alight and a number of
cars hijacked as the trouble spread to the Shore Road in
North Belfast.

Across in the east of the city, there were reports of a
pipe bomb exploding near Albertbridge Road. Three similar
undetonated devices were found in the same area, police

In the nearby Short Strand six officers received minor
injuries during sporadic disturbances and later petrol bomb

Meanwhile police and troops continued to come under gun and
bomb attack along the West Circular Road where Army
explosives experts were called in to defuse a number of

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