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Sectarian rioting rocks Belfast for second straight night

From Peter Taggert, For CNN
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Violence in Northern Ireland
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rioters pelt police with petrol bombs, fireworks and bricks, police say
  • Reporters retreat from the area after a photographer is shot
  • Police also clashed with rioters in east Belfast Monday
  • Northern Ireland has seen a resurgence of violence in recent months
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Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Police clashed with hundreds of rioters in eastern Belfast on Tuesday in the second straight night of sectarian violence there.

About 700 people had amassed in the streets Tuesday night, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. Molotov cocktails, fireworks and bricks were being thrown, police said.

Police fired water cannons on the crowd and asked the media to move away from the area.

Two men suffered burns and one man was injured after shots were fired, police reported.

Reporters retreated from the area after a newspaper photographer was shot in the leg.

Sectarian rioting began late Monday in eastern Belfast, with leaders from both Catholic and Protestant communities reporting attacks on homes overnight.

Police reported Molotov cocktails were being thrown as a large crowd gathered on the streets that separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in the area, a longstanding Northern Ireland flash point. Ambulance services reported two people injured early Tuesday, and reporters attempting to cover the disturbances were threatened.

The Irish republican party Sinn Fein said up to 100 masked men raided Catholic-owned homes in the Short Strand neighborhood after allegations by unionist politicians that Protestant homes were attacked Sunday. Police had no information on any of Sunday's reported attacks.

Sinn Fein blamed the attacks on Catholics on members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist paramilitary group that officially disarmed in 2009. Police had no immediate comment on the assertion.

After a long period of quiet in its ongoing "Troubles" between Catholics and Protestants, Northern Ireland has seen a resurgence of violence in recent months. Tensions also are typically elevated in early summer, when Protestant groups hold commemorative marches to celebrate the 17th century victory of England's King William III over his Catholic predecessor, James II.

"We would appeal to anyone with any influence to continue to work with police to tackle these issues which are damaging for the whole community," Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said Tuesday in a statement. "This is an issue that cannot be addressed by police alone."

 
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