Three shot in Belfast rioting
Three people were shot as a new wave of sectarian rioting erupted in east Belfast.
Last night, houses were set on fire by petrol bombs and families moved out of a loyalist district after they came under attack from nationalists across a peaceline in the Short Strand.
Police said a 39-year-old man and two 15-year-old youths were shot and injured as gunfire was directed at Cluan Place in the Protestant Albertbridge Road area.
Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine, who was at the scene when the violence flared, said the man was taken to hospital after being hit in the back and lower leg.
The East Belfast MLA said he had been told the man’s condition was “ill but comfortable”.
Mr Ervine added that the two youths had suffered bullet wounds to their lower legs.
As blast bombs continued to rain down, Mr Ervine said: “These people have gone through a weekend of terror.”
Residents forced to flee their homes, including several pensioners, were taken to other houses and church halls.
Police said trouble erupted when stones and missiles were thrown into Cluan Place from the Short Strand, a Catholic enclave in Protestant east Belfast.
Later petrol bombs were lobbed at loyalist homes. Two houses were set alight, with fire crews being called to extinguish the blaze.
The disorder followed several nights of fighting between rival mobs in east Belfast which resulted in 10 police officers being injured.
Mr Ervine said the area was extremely volatile and called for more police to be drafted into the Short Strand.
“There are no police resources being put into the nationalist side; if they were they couldn’t do what they are doing,” he claimed.
Earlier, rival mobs clashed during sectarian fighting in the Whitewell Road area of north Belfast.
Police and soldiers came under attack from rival loyalist and nationalist factions.
Up to 100 people who gathered on each side in the Arthur Bridge area hurled stones, bottles, paint and petrol bombs at security forces trying to separate them.
The disorder continued in the nearby Gunnell Hill and Serpentine Road areas, with gangs fighting running battles.
Two people arrested and charged with riotous behaviour were due in court this morning. No injuries to security forces were reported.
Joe O’Donnell, a Belfast Sinn Fein councillor for the Short Strand area, insisted that loyalists had put Catholic homes under siege from gun and blast bomb attack.
“I understand there have been shots fired from here tonight, but there was gunfire into here first,” he said last night.
“We stood and watched 40 or 50 semi-uniformed loyalist paramilitaries march down and line up on the Albertbridge Road.
“I’m now standing with 150 people who have been evicted from their homes.”
Mr O’Donnell said houses in the Short Strand had been decimated.
“This area is completely surrounded by a wall and 70,000 unionists and yet we are the ones targeting them.
“I’m standing here and it looks like Beirut.”