Derry violence: 74 petrol bombs thrown in worst night of disorder for years

UK

More than 70 petrol bombs were thrown and a flyover set on fire during a sixth successive night of violence in Derry.

Children as young as eight were among crowds of 200 people rioting in one of the worst nights of trouble in the city, also known as Londonderry, in decades on Thursday.

Video footage showed one young male protester hurling a petrol bomb at the windscreen of a passing van from point-blank range.

Riot police fired plastic baton rounds as they attempted to disperse crowds who built makeshift barricades in the largely Republican Bogside neighbourhood.

Two pipe bombs were also aimed at officers.

A 22-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

The week of violence was sparked after the city hosted its first protestant Twelfth parade in five years.

Superintendent Gordon McCalmont,of the PSNI, said 74 petrol bombs had been thrown in total and his officers had faced a “prolonged and sustained attack”.

He said: “I am saddened, disheartened and frustrated that yet again police officers committed to keeping this local community safe have been attacked by a small number of people within it.

“It is nothing short of a miracle that officers were not injured.”

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He added: “While we have seen many young people involved in these attacks over the last number of nights, it is clear this is being orchestrated by a more sinister, adult, violent dissident republican element. This cannot continue. This must end now.”

However, not everyone was intimidated by the disorder.

Tourist Barbara Wexler, visiting from New York, said she had found the march – and Republican reaction – enlightening.

“It’s very interesting,” she told the Belfast Telegraph. “It’s giving us a better understand of Irish history and it’s all very complex and gives us a good handle of different countries and what their internal struggles are.”

Karen Bradley, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, said the attacks were “completely unacceptable”.

“My full support goes to the PSNI and others who are working so hard to end this intolerable violence by a small minority,” she said.

Colum Eastwood, leader of the nationalist SDLP, said the violence was “terrifying people in their own homes”.

He said: “These people who are supposedly republicans, who are supposedly trying to get a united Ireland are destroying their area. Now, I don’t know how many times we have to learn this lesson that this does not work. It’s not only morally reprehensible, it’s strategically stupid.”

Sinn Féin‘s Elisha McCallion also called out “sinister elements” controlling the violence.

“People in the Bogside were afraid for their lives last night,” she said. “Those involved in it and indeed those behind the scenes stirring up this type of activity, need to catch themselves on.”

In a tweet on Friday morning, Arlene Foster, leader of the unionist DUP, said: “Really disturbing scenes…someone will be killed if this continues.”

Earlier in the week on Tuesday, machine gun fire was directed at police – though no one was hurt either incident.

Rioters have also targeted homes in the unionist Fountain estate.

Wednesday night also saw violent scenes in Belfast, with loyalists blamed for the disorder.

Masked men hijacked and set vehicles on fire amid fury about moves to reduce the size of two loyalist Eleventh Night bonfires.

Thousands of Orange Order members took part in Twelfth of July parades across Northern Ireland on Thursday to mark the 1690 victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne.

It is the biggest date in the Protestant loyal order parading calendar.

Press Association contributed to this report

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