N Ireland hit by violence, police come under attack

Northern Ireland police has used water cannon against a crowd of up to 300 people in fresh violence on the streets of Belfast, in which several officers were hurt, a spokesman said.

It was the second consecutive night of violence on Friday by pro-British protesters, and followed several weeks of unrest sparked by the December 3 decision by Belfast City Council to limit the number of days it flies the British flag.

“Police have come under sustained attack from crowds of up to 300 people using fireworks, bricks and petrol bombs. Water cannon had been deployed to the scene,” said a spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

“A number of officers have been injured and several arrests have been made.” On Thursday night, First Minister Peter Robinson said: “The violence and destruction visited on the PSNI is a disgrace, criminally wrong and cannot be justified. “Those responsible are doing a grave disservice to the cause they claim to espouse and are playing into the hands of those dissident groups who would seek to exploit every opportunity to further their terror aims.”

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