Water cannon used in protests in Belfast

5th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Northern Ireland police used water cannon against a crowd of up to 300 people on Friday in fresh violence on the streets of Belfast, in which several officers were hurt, a spokesman said.

It was the second consecutive night of violence by pro-British protesters, and followed several weeks of unrest sparked by the December 3 decision by Belfast City Council to limit the number of days it flies the British flag.

"Police have come under sustained attack from crowds of up to 300 people using fireworks, bricks and petrol bombs. Water cannon had been deployed to the scene," said a spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

"A number of officers have been injured and several arrests have been made."

After 10 police officers were injured in clashes on Thursday night, First Minister Peter Robinson said: "The violence and destruction visited on the PSNI is a disgrace, criminally wrong and cannot be justified.

"Those responsible are doing a grave disservice to the cause they claim to espouse and are playing into the hands of those dissident groups who would seek to exploit every opportunity to further their terror aims."

The flag vote has raised tensions in the British-controlled province, which endured three decades of sectarian violence until 1998 peace accords led to a power-sharing government between Protestant loyalists and Catholic republicans.

© 2013 AFP

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