Northern Ireland protesters hit police with petrol bombs
Rioters in Belfast pelted police with petrol bombs on Monday in the latest violence to flare up in Northern Ireland over a decision by the city’s council not to fly the British flag all year round.
Officers were targeted on the Upper Newtownards Road near the offices of the east Belfast lawmaker Naomi Long, a member of the non-sectarian Alliance Party who has been warned her life is under threat.
Police said they were treating the attack as attempted murder.
Tensions have risen in the British province since councillors voted on December 3 to limit the number of days the Union Jack can fly over the City Hall to 17, outraging loyalists who believe Northern Ireland should retain strong links to Britain.
Loyalist demonstrators blocked several roads on Monday and showered police with a volley of petrol bombs and fireworks close to the M1 motorway.
Eight police officers were injured during clashes close to the city centre on Friday night and five people arrested, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.
Loyalists have held nightly protests in several parts of Northern Ireland since the ruling.
Some 3,500 people died in the three decades of violence between Northern Irish Protestants favouring continued union with Britain, and Catholics seeking a unified Ireland.
A 1998 peace agreement largely ended the conflict, but sporadic unrest and bomb threats continue as dissident offshoots remain violently opposed to the power-sharing government in Belfast, formed of Catholic and Protestant parties.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Northern Ireland on Friday, winning praise from the province’s leaders for her role in helping to build peace.