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Bus explodes after being pelted with petrol bombs as violence in Northern Ireland continues

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 3 days ago Sean Morrison

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a protective mask arrives to visit Ann's Cottage Surf Shop in Truro, Cornwall, Britain April 7, 2021. Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS © Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a protective mask arrives to visit Ann's Cottage Surf Shop in Truro, Cornwall, Britain April 7, 2021. Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned the violence that again broke out on the streets of Northern Ireland, after a bus was hijacked and set on fire.

The bus was set alight after being pelted with petrol bombs at the junction of Lanark Way and Shankill Road in west Belfast, the PSNI said.

Stones were thrown at police while a press photographer was assaulted nearby during the course of their work on Wednesday evening.

Police vehicles are seen behind a hijacked bus burns on the Shankill Road as protests continue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY © Thomson Reuters Police vehicles are seen behind a hijacked bus burns on the Shankill Road as protests continue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

It was one of a number of incidents on Wednesday evening that took place on the peace line street that links the loyalist Shankill Road with the nationalist Springfield Road.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to visit Lemon Street Market in Truro, Cornwall, Britain April 7, 2021. Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS © Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to visit Lemon Street Market in Truro, Cornwall, Britain April 7, 2021. Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS

Writing on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist.

“The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality.”

a group of people standing around a fire: Fire fed by petrol burns as youths clashed at the Peace Gate at the Springfield Road/Lanark WayAP © Provided by Evening Standard Fire fed by petrol burns as youths clashed at the Peace Gate at the Springfield Road/Lanark WayAP

It follows several nights of unrest in loyalist communities amid tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol on Brexit and the PSNI’s handling of alleged coronavirus regulation breaches by Sinn Fein at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.

First Minister Arlene Foster also condemned the attack on Twitter, saying: “There is no justification for violence. It is wrong and should stop.”

Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon described the attack on the bus as “sickening”.

She said: “Those attacking their own communities and their own public services are achieving nothing and if this doesn’t stop now it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon speaking with media at the Balmoral MOT centre in Belfast. (Photo by Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images) © Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon speaking with media at the Balmoral MOT centre in Belfast. (Photo by Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Tonight with deep regret Translink has had to suspended some services in Belfast due to ongoing disturbances.

“Thankfully no one has been hurt in this incidence, but those responsible for this attack, and ongoing attacks on the police, need to stop and stop now.


Video: PSNI urges public to shun disorder (PA Media)

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“I appeal for calm and call on those destroying their own communities and those fanning the flames to end this recklessness before someone is seriously hurt or killed.”

SDLP MP Claire Hanna also criticised the attack on the photographer, tweeting: “We’re told by the apologists that these protests & riots are borne of frustration about not being listened to, but an excellent photo journalist is attacked while trying to capture the story.”

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - APRIL 08: A man takes a photo on his mobile phone as he walks past a burnt down bus on April 8, 2021 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Violence broke out after a Loyalist protest took place in front of the gates of the peace line at the Springfield Road/ Lanark Way Interface. Youths attacked police officers and petrol bombed a bus.  (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) © Charles McQuillan/Getty Images BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - APRIL 08: A man takes a photo on his mobile phone as he walks past a burnt down bus on April 8, 2021 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Violence broke out after a Loyalist protest took place in front of the gates of the peace line at the Springfield Road/ Lanark Way Interface. Youths attacked police officers and petrol bombed a bus. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Police are advising members of the public to avoid these areas.

“We would appeal to those with influence in the area to use it to help restore calm,” a PSNI statement said.

Videos circulating online show a bus being pelted with petrol bombs and having its windows smashed where a crowd of people had gathered.

Translink Metro said it had withdrawn all services into the area until further notice due to road closures, as well as services in east Belfast.

Police officers standing behind shields walk along Springfield Road as protests continue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff    REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT © REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff Police officers standing behind shields walk along Springfield Road as protests continue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT

A crowd of around 500 people, most of them adults, gathered on the corner of the junction at Lanark Way as events unfolded.

Further down the road a bonfire was lit where a crowd of approximately 100 people, mostly young, were assembled.

The Stormont Assembly is set to be recalled on Thursday morning for an emergency debate following days of violence.

Riots and attacks on police have taken place repeatedly throughout the last week and have now resumed after a relative lull on Tuesday.

A woman walks past a burnt out bus on the Shankill road in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, April 8, 2021. The scene follows another night of violence in Loyalist areas that has now spread to interface areas of the peace divide. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) © AP Photo/Peter Morrison A woman walks past a burnt out bus on the Shankill road in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, April 8, 2021. The scene follows another night of violence in Loyalist areas that has now spread to interface areas of the peace divide. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Police were attacked during another night of violence in a number of loyalist areas on Monday.

Nine officers were injured in Ballymena, taking to 41 the number injured in disorder across Northern Ireland since last Friday night.

The most intense clashes on Monday were witnessed in Ballymena, when nine riot police officers were injured after they intervened in an unlawful march of loyalists through the town.

During the unrest, debris, including a wheelie bin, was thrown onto the M2 motorway, forcing its closure.

Disorder also flared in parts of Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, and Londonderry on Monday, with petrol bombs and other missiles thrown at officers.

a man riding on the back of a fire: Getty Images © Provided by Evening Standard Getty Images

Children as young as 12 have been involved in some of the violence that has been witnessed in recent days.

Cars, a JCB digger, a phone box and bins were set alight in the Waterside area of Londonderry on Monday.

Police said that a brick was thrown at a taxi, which was carrying a passenger at the time, on the Limavady Road.

The cause of the unrest has been attributed to frustration over a decision not to prosecute members of Sinn Fein over alleged coronavirus regulation breaches at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.

Police officers stand near their vehicles during a riot at Lanark Way as protests continue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff © REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff Police officers stand near their vehicles during a riot at Lanark Way as protests continue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

Opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol and drugs seizures against a dissident faction of the UDA in south-east Antrim have also been blamed.

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