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Five shot in Belfast rioting

wrecked van
Up to 1,000 people were involved in the riots during the night  

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Five people were shot during a fourth night of sectarian violence in Belfast, it has emerged.

Police said loyalist and republican paramilitaries were behind rioting in the east of the city, which left 19 officers injured.

Every available officer has now been drafted in to help quell the disorder.

Alan McQuillan, assistant chief constable for Belfast, said: "The rest of my region will pay the price for that in terms of reduced police service, but this has to be the priority to deal with this violence."

Monday night's trouble was again centred on the Lower Newtownards Road, where Protestants clashed with Catholics living in the adjacent Short Strand enclave.

IN-DEPTH: Conflict and hope in Northern Ireland 

Police said two Protestants were wounded by a republican gunman, while a bus driver was injured by flying glass after his vehicle came under attack from loyalists in the area.

A police officer sustained a gunshot wound to his lower leg during battles involving up to 1,000 people.

A total of 13 shots were fired at security forces, who returned six rounds, hitting a gunman who was dragged away. Two arrests were made.

Some 61 baton rounds were also discharged in a bid to disperse rioters hurling petrol bombs, bricks and bottles at police and army lines.

McQuillan insisted the Ulster Defence Association, Ulster Volunteer Force and the IRA were all driving the violence.

"On the loyalist side we see clear evidence that the UDA and UVF have been involved in this," he said.

"Certainly in terms of the street disorder on the republican side we have seen large numbers of members of the IRA, many of them from outside the area.

"We believe that they are involved in organising the violence."

But he refused to comment on the state of the paramilitaries' ceasefires, saying it was a matter for Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid.

Bus services halted in Belfast during the rioting were resuming on Tuesday.

However, the Transport and General Workers' Union has warned it would not allow bus drivers to be put at risk during the trouble.

Spokesman John Coffey said: "We cannot expect our drivers to drive up and down streets of Belfast where there's a danger both to them and the passengers they are carrying.

"We are all hopeful that these disturbances will finish soon so that we can continue servicing the people of Belfast."


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