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'Reckless' petrol bomb attack on Londonderry police

2023-06-01 18:16:26 source:CBS News author:Press center2 click:102order

Police in Northern Ireland have described a petrol-bomb attack on officers in Londonderry as "senseless and reckless".

Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at officers during an illegal republican parade on Monday.

They were in an armoured police Land Rover in the Creggan area of the city where the parade began when they were targeted shortly after 14:00 BST.

The violence comes on the eve of US President Joe Biden's visit to NI.

Mr Biden is due in Belfast on Tuesday, when he will give an address as part of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace agreement.

Monday's parade was led by more than a dozen people in paramilitary-style dress.

"Shortly after the parade commenced, petrol bombs and other objects were thrown at one of our vehicles at the junction of Iniscarn Road and Linsfort Drive," Ch Supt Nigel Goddard said.

Masked youths were observed making petrol bombs and participating in the attack.

"This was a senseless and reckless attack on our officers who were in attendance in the area in order to comply with our legal duties," Ch Supt Goddard added.

He described the violence as "incredibly disheartening".

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said none of its officers had been injured and appealed for calm.

The parade ended at Derry's City Cemetery where about 300 people took part in an event to commemorate the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Youths wearing masks set fire to bins and blocked one of the main roads leading into Creggan.

A police helicopter flying overhead monitored developments.

"As participants at the parade made their way out of the City Cemetery, they removed their paramilitary uniforms under the cover of umbrellas and burnt them," Ch Supt Goddard said.

"As the parade was un-notified, police were in attendance with a proportionate policing operation."

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris told BBC News NI it was "very, very disappointing that people have gone ahead with a march that's not been notified to the police".

"Hopefully it will calm down very, very quickly and the police can go about their business because they're there to protect all communities across Northern Ireland," he added.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said it was "utterly tragic" to watch people born after the Good Friday Agreement attack police.

"They are being groomed by adults who have nothing to offer but misery and destruction," the former Stormont justice minister said.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell called the scenes in Creggan "deplorable" and called for action to catch those responsible.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said the disorder had no place in society and that political leaders must "stand united appealing to all those concerned to end these attacks and refrain from further threats of violence".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said "there are kids with no memory or experience of the violence of 25 years ago and they're being exploited and abused by people with no vision for the future".

Last week the PSNI said there was potential for public disorder over Easter, with "very strong intelligence" suggesting dissident republicans were planning attacks in Derry.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne had said the disorder could be an attempt to draw officers into gun or bomb ambushes.

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