Police come under attack in Belfast bonfire riot (VIDEOS)
Violence erupted in the predominantly nationalist New Lodge area of the city on Thursday, as the police attempted to allow private contractors to dismantle the towering bonfire.
Missiles rained down on the officers before a group of protesters charged at police lines, attacking them with pieces of metal fencing. One witness said that children as young as 10 were among the crowds clashing with police, The Irish News reports.
Amidst the affray a number of youths climbed to the top of the bonfire and refused to come down. “This bonfire means too much to me to get down. I’m not giving in to these ones,” one of them shouted to onlookers, according to the newspaper.
One officer was injured during the fracas and the extent of his injuries remains unclear.
“Our thoughts are with that officer, and his colleagues who are there trying to restore order,” Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said.
“This behaviour is contrary to the overwhelming wishes of the people of New Lodge, who do not want this bonfire or their area hijacked by young thugs,” he added in a statement.
The bonfire was built to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment in 1971. The British internment policy during the Troubles in Northern Ireland saw hundreds of people arrested and imprisoned without trial, on suspicion of being involved with the IRA.
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