UK & World News
Belfast: 26 Police Injured During Clashes
Twenty-six police officers have been injured in loyalist rioting as violence linked to a contentious republican parade engulfed Belfast city centre.
Five of the officers required hospital treatment and there were reports that a number of members of the public were also hurt.
Police fired plastic baton rounds and water cannon after coming under attack from loyalists who pelted them with bottles, fireworks and glasses as hundreds of loyalist demonstrators gathered to protest at the rally.
Metal guttering ripped from shop fronts was also used in the violence and several vehicles were set on fire.
Protesters had attempted to block part of the route of the Anti-Internment League parade, which was diverted to avoid the disturbances.
There were some sectarian clashes as the march passed close to loyalist protesters.
Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said police had come under heavy and sustained attack "by crowds intent on creating disorder".
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers described the violence and attacks on police as "shameful".
"After success for Northern Ireland this summer as host to both the G8 Summit and the World Police and Fire Games, disorder on the streets is a hugely regrettable step backwards," she said.
The disorder comes after eight officers were injured at a republican anti-internment bonfire near the city centre on Thursday night.
Eight people were arrested and at one point, as violence spread to north Belfast, officers were attacked by a man with a sword.
The parade was unable to pass down Royal Avenue as intended. After a significant delay, it did finally proceed along the outskirts of the city centre and onward to west Belfast.
Last month parts of Belfast were consumed by more rioting, predominantly loyalist, when Orangemen were banned from parading past the nationalist Ardoyne area.
Friday night's republican parade is in protest at the deeply controversial internment policy in place at the height of the Troubles in the 1970s.
It saw mass arrests and detention without trial of hundreds of people suspected of being involved with the IRA.
Parading tensions have also spread to other parts of Northern Ireland with controversy surrounding a planned Sinn Fein-backed commemoration event in the County Tyrone town of Castlederg on Sunday.