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Northern Ireland riots continue at disputed parade

From Peter Taggart, For CNN
At least 22 police officers were injured as rioters threw more than 40 petrol bombs in Catholic areas of Belfast last night.
At least 22 police officers were injured as rioters threw more than 40 petrol bombs in Catholic areas of Belfast last night.
  • Fresh violence breaks out at Orange Order parade in north Belfast
  • At least 22 police officers were injured in attacks on Monday, police say
  • Security forces respond with plastic bullets and a water cannon
  • This year has been one of the most violent in Northern Ireland since a peace agreement

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Scores of youths attacked police in Northern Ireland for a second consecutive night Tuesday in an expression of rage over a parade in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

Nationalist youths threw stones, gasoline bombs, golf balls and fireworks at police attending the Orange Order parade -- held on a date often marked by sectarian violence.

After the march passed, the rioters grew in number and ferocity; police responded with plastic bullets and water cannon. Outbreaks of violence also ignited in East Belfast, Derry and other parts of Northern Ireland.

Police appealed for calm on Tuesday.

"Whilst I commend the bravery and leadership of many within the community who worked tirelessly to reduce the disorder and calm tensions -- we need everyone to keep working to build and maintain calm across all local areas," Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said in a statement.

He said a number of officers were injured during the disorder.

"We have unfortunately witnessed first hand this evening how violence damages people's homes and businesses, it sets back relationships and leaves wounds which take time to heal," Finlay said. "It is not representative in any way of the vast majority of people here who want to get on with their lives."

Tuesday's incident came a day after at least 22 officers were injured amid similar attacks elsewhere in Belfast.

On Monday night, police fired more than 50 plastic bullets and used a water cannon to disperse rioters, who threw more than 40 gasoline bombs, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. A number of arrests were made, police added, without specifying how many.

Monday's violence was centered in Catholic areas of Belfast ahead of the main day of the Protestant marching season, when loyalists parade through the streets.

A spokeswoman said the trouble started late Monday and continued into Tuesday.

The most serious disorder was in the Broadway area of west Belfast and involved 100 to 200 people.

Police were investigating reports that gunshots were fired during the disturbances.

Police said several vehicles were hijacked and set afire in the area, while crowds attacked officers with missiles "including masonry and petrol bombs."

At one point, a bus was hijacked and driven toward police lines but crashed a short distance away.

Ahead of the march, Assistant Chief Constable Dave Jones had called for community restraint.

"We would appeal for everyone to do everything they can to help ensure all areas are calm and peaceful over the next 48 hours. Violence does not need to be inevitable," he said after Monday night's rioting.

In recent years, public disorder has followed the annual parade.

The province suffered decades of violence known locally as the Troubles, in which more than 3,500 people were killed before a 1998 peace accord known as the Good Friday Agreement.

In each of the last three years, violence organized by people opposed to the peace process has erupted around the parade.

The Troubles pitted mostly Catholic republicans, who want the province to become part of the Republic of Ireland, against pro-British loyalists, who are mostly Protestant.

This year has been one of the most violent since the Good Friday Agreement.