UK Prime Minister urges calm as Belfast protesters hijack bus and attack police By Reuters

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4/4 © Reuters. Protests in Belfast 2/4

By Jason Cairnduff BELFAST (Reuters) – Crowds of young people in a pro-British area of ​​Belfast set fire to a hijacked bus and attacked police with stones in the latest in a series of nightly outbreaks of violence that began last week. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” by the violence, which has injured dozens of police officers in recent days when protesters burned cars and threw gasoline bombs at police. The violence comes amid growing frustration among many members of the pro-British unionist community over new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom that resulted from Britain’s departure from the European Union. The pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) also pointed to the police’s decision not to prosecute Irish nationalists Sinn Fein for a grand funeral last year that violated COVID-19 regulations. Sinn Fein, in turn, has blamed the DUP for stoking tensions with his staunch opposition to the new trade deals and his call in recent days for the region’s chief of police to resign. The Northern Ireland Police Service has said that some of the violence was influenced by “criminal elements” who helped orchestrate the attacks. The violence on Wednesday took place near Shankill Road in west Belfast, near the so-called “wall of peace” that divides the community from the Irish nationalist stronghold of Falls Road, where youth groups also gathered. Walls and fences were built between the two communities to prevent clashes during three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland that largely ended with a 1998 peace agreement. “I am deeply concerned about the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland.” Johnson wrote in a Twitter post. “The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or crime.” The leaders of Northern Ireland’s most important political parties, Sinn Fein and the DUP, condemned the violence, noting in particular the bus hijacking and an attack on a photojournalist for the Belfast Telegraph newspaper. “These actions do not represent unionism or loyalty. They are an embarrassment to Northern Ireland,” wrote DUP leader Arlene Foster in a Twitter post describing rivals Sinn Fein as “the real lawbreakers.”

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