UK declares UVF 'enemy of peace'
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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- The British government on Wednesday said it determined that an outlawed Protestant group in Northern Ireland had abandoned its commitment to a 1994 cease-fire and was an enemy of the peace.
Peter Hain, the British Northern Ireland secretary, made the announcement after the government determined there was sufficient evidence the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was behind this weekend's violent riots in and around Belfast, and that the group was tied to four recent killings.
Hain said he had "concluded there are sufficient grounds to specify" that the UVF was no longer sticking to the rules of the 11-year-old Good Friday accord.
He added that this weekend's attacks on security forces "amounted to a breakdown in their cease-fire."
Belfast and outlying towns were plagued with violence after a parade route for the Orange Order -- Northern Ireland's major Protestant brotherhood -- was rerouted Saturday around a Catholic neighborhood, instead of following a more traditional route.
About 50 police officers were injured in the violence in which Protestant paramilitaries fired automatic weapons at authorities and tossed gasoline bombs at them.
Rioters also destroyed vehicles, hijacked buses and burned stores and banks.
Northern Ireland's police chief described the rioting as some of the most dangerous in years.
Rioting and violence has plagued previous Orange Order marches, but protesters typically did not fire automatic weapons or throw homemade bombs at police.
The violence came just months after the Irish Republican Army announced in July that it was ending its decades-long "armed campaign" and ordered its militants "to assist the development of purely political and democratic programs through exclusively peaceful means."
In its historic statement, the IRA said it had authorized a representative to complete the process of decommissioning arms -- the process that halted progress on the Good Friday peace accords in 2003 when the group refused to allow photographic proof of the decommissioning.
CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson contributed to this story
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