Sectarian mob rampage in north Belfast

A loyalist mob attack nationalist homes in north Belfast yesterday before attacking police who attempted to intervene.

Scores attacked homes and property in the Cavehill area. Windows at two houses were broken, a car was damaged and a number of bins along the road were overturned and rubbish strewn across the road, she said. One bin was also set alight.

Police officers called to deal with the incident were assulted, with eight reported to have received minor injuries. Three people were arrested for public order offences.

The Police Ombudsman's office is investigating the clash, which was condemned by nationalist representatives.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said yesterday's attacks on nationalist homes were symptomatic of a growing trend.

Mr Kelly pointed out that at least 12 homes had in recent weeks been targeted by loyalist gangs firing ball bearings from gas-powered pistols.

``One of the people whose home has had these ball bearings fired at it belongs to an elderly woman who is now afraid to go back into her house,'' the North Belfast assembly member said.

``The PSNI is playing down these ball bearing attacks but we are very concerned about it,'' he said.

Mr Kelly showed some of the ball bearings fired and an air pistol of the type used to shoot them.

``They are very dangerous. I have kids in the house and if any of these hit a child it could seriously injure them,'' he said.

``These weapons use a gas cylinder to fire the ball bearings. It's not illegal to have them, even if anyone is caught, and they are easily got across the counter.''

He said the houses which had had ball bearings shot at them were ``not being attacked at random''.

``The information (of who lives where) has to come from somewhere in the crown forces,'' he said.

``Here we have another example of collusion being used to attack nationalist homes.''


Meanwhile, a young child was among a number of people who escaped injury when a pipe bomb exploded outside a house in Ballynahinch yesterday morning.

The device exploded and broke a front window shortly after 2am. Several people were in the house when the device exploded, but none were injured.

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