RIOT police were trying to remove nationalist protesters from the streets of Belfast last night amid tension following the shooting of three officers in the run-up to the Orange parades.
There was a massive police presence at sectarian flashpoints as the annual Twelfth of July Protestant celebration took place.
Officers in body armour were in the Ardoyne district of north Belfast last night trying to remove more than 100 nationalists staging a sit-down protest to prevent Orangemen marching along the Crumlin Road on their way back from the celebration.
Elsewhere in the city, bomb disposal experts were examining a hijacked bus left outside Woodburn police station.
Two masked men reportedly got on the vehicle in the Glencolin Walk area around 4pm, told the driver a device had been left on the top deck and ordered him to drive to the station.
A car was later hijacked in the Oldpark Road area and found abandoned on Alliance Avenue where officers were examining it.
In Lurgan, Co Armagh, youths tried to set fire to the Belfast to Dublin train as it stopped at a level crossing. None of the 55 passengers were hurt.
On Sunday night, three officers, including a woman, were hit when a masked gunman opened fire. A male officer remains in hospital with wounds to his arm. Nationalists attacked officers as the traditional 11th Night celebrations took place.
A total of 27 officers were injured in the disturbances, 14 in the nationalist New Lodge area of north Belfast and 13 at Broadway on the western side of the city.
About 200 nationalist rioters threw petrol bombs, stones and bottles at Broadway. Police used water cannon and fire baton rounds.
Chief Superintendent Mark Hamilton condemned the disorder on Sunday night. “These officers were policing their local community and have been attacked,” he said.
“This is utterly wrong and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. We would appeal to anyone with influence in the community to exert it to ensure that the next few days pass off without incident.”
The acting chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Brian Rea, paid tribute to the injured officers.
Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea, a member of the policing board, said: “It is worse than it has been for a number of years. There certainly seems to be a case where rival gangs were intent on having a go at each other, and the police were caught in the middle.”
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly blamed the dissident republican group the Continuity IRA for orchestrating the disturbances and exploiting “antisocial elements” in both communities.
“The people of the area are absolutely against it,” Mr Kelly said.
The Twelfth marches commemorate Prince William of Orange’s 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II.
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