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More troops for Northern Ireland

Burning car
Cars were ignited during a second night of violence on Thursday  


BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- The British Army says some 1,600 additional troops will arrive in the region by the beginning of next month.

The army says the deployment was pre-planned and is not in response to recent violence in Belfast.

A spokesman said the deployment was planned months ago and was in preparation for the start of the marching season, which begins in July, and is often accompanied by heightened tensions.

He said the troops were not being called in because of two straight nights of violence in some parts of the city. On Thursday, crowds of youths set cars on fire and hurled petrol bombs and rocks.

At least 20 police officers were injured, authorities said. The fighting was not as bad as the previous night, when 39 officers were injured, but it had spread from Ardoyne, a hard-line Republican enclave, to other parts of the city.

In West Belfast, rioters tossed rocks and bricks over the high wall separating the two communities known as the Peace Wall. Several motorists driving on the other side were injured.

And a Roman Catholic secondary school was torched, despite earlier efforts of community leaders on both sides to diffuse tensions in the city.

High-level political talks on the region's sputtering peace process resumed on Friday at Hillsborough Castle, near Belfast.

Tensions are particularly high as Northern Ireland braces for the height of the Protestant Orange Order marching season in a few weeks. Much of this week's trouble took place near routes of the contentious marches.

CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson contributed to this report





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