[QODLink]
Europe
Sectarian violence in Belfast continues
Clashes between police and mobs have left dozens injured after protests over march held by Catholic group.
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2012 16:26
Protests in the north of the divided city have turned violent, resulting in injuries and arrests [GALLO/GETTY]

Seven people have been arrested in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, after at least 15 police officers were wounded in sectarian rioting.

Amid a rain of petrol bombs and rocks, a van was hijacked and driven into police lines on Monday night, after about 300 Protestant loyalists gathered to protest against a parade held on Sunday by a republican flute band from a nearby Catholic community.

Author Eamonn Mallie offers
analysis of the latest violence

Some 47 people - mostly police - had been hurt in clashes on Sunday.

Police shot plastic bullets and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowds who had gathered, as unrest grew over competing marches held by Protestant and Catholic groups.

More than 100 masked, hooded Protestants threw bottles, bricks and fireworks at police lines on Sunday night, the AP news agency reported.

Police commander Matt Baggott said his officers demonstrated "courage and restraint", while Terry Spence, of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, said that "their bravery and courage is in stark contrast to that of the cowardly thugs responsible for trying to murder them".

Sunday night's violence came as Irish republicans from a Catholic area of the community paraded near Protestant districts of north Belfast, where residents traditionally identify with the British crown.

Protestant groups had previously been prohibited from marching in the area, and many were reportedly frustrated with a lack of restrictions placed on the Catholic band.

The annual marches held every summer have frequently resulted in flaring unrest, though violence has been limited in recent years.

Northern Irish politicians have claimed that the latest violence had been sustained by loyalist paramilitary groups such as the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association, though loyalist sources have vehemently denied  these claims.

336

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.