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Clashes erupt for second night in Belfast

By Peter Taggart, for CNN
updated 10:58 AM EDT, Tue September 4, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A top police officer warns that someone will be killed if the violence continues
  • 15 police officers are hurt on the second night of disorder
  • At least 47 officers were hurt the previous night
  • Police are attacked with bricks and fireworks, and respond with water cannons

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Fifteen police officers were injured in Belfast late Monday in a second night of disorder between Catholics and Protestants, prompting a top police officer to warn that someone will be killed if it continues.

Lighted gasoline bombs, fireworks, bricks, bottles and other objects were thrown at police, who wore riot gear. A van was hijacked and pushed into police lines, a spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

Officers deployed water cannons and used six plastic bullets in response, the spokesman said.

Three of the injured officers had to be sent to a hospital, he said.

Monday night's violence brought the total number of police injured to 62 in just over 24 hours.

Seven people were arrested, police said.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr on Tuesday urged politicians and community leaders to "stop posturing" and "sort out" the violence between Catholics and Protestants before someone is killed.

He warned that a solution must be found before September 29, when Protestants plan one of their biggest parades in years.

Violence on Sunday night left at least 47 police officers hurt. Police said four officers had to be sent to hospitals with injuries to the head, legs and chest.

The police officers had been trying to maintain order as Protestant demonstrators voiced their opposition to a scheduled parade by a Catholic marching band and its supporters.

Police were attacked with "fireworks, petrol bombs, masonry and lasers," and responded with water cannons, they said.

It was the largest number of police officers hurt in a single disturbance since the summer of 2010, when more than 80 officers were injured in rioting in the Belfast neighborhood of Ardoyne, a frequent flashpoint between Catholics and Protestants.

Hundreds of parades take place across Northern Ireland each year, the majority involving the Protestant Orange Order and associated organizations, although pro-Irish nationalists also have marches.

The Northern Ireland Parades Commission rules on which marches are allowed to take place and which are banned, in an effort to keep friction to a minimum.

Most parades pass off peacefully, but when members of one community march near or through neighborhoods dominated by another, violence sometimes results.

Sunday night's violence, which took place near Ardoyne, came as Protestants who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom clashed with Catholics who want the province to become part of the Republic of Ireland.

Police said a 17-year-old male was charged with riotous assembly, assault on police, assault causing actual bodily harm and resisting arrest. He is due in Belfast Youth Court on Tuesday.

On Sunday, a Protestant establishment, the Belfast Grand Orange Lodge building, was attacked. Tom Haire of the lodge blamed the aggression on "those whose hatred and intolerance of all things Protestant and British is manifested in the campaign against traditional parades."

Tensions often rise over the summer but have been building even more since a Protestant band played outside a Catholic church on July 12. More than 20 police officers were injured that day, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

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