Police uninjured as explosive devices thrown in continuing Londonderry unrest

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Police have escaped further murder bids in Londonderry as rioters engaged in a sixth successive night of violence in the city.

Two explosive devices were hurled at officers during the dissident republic fomented unrest in the city’s Bogside, with 74 petrol bombs also thrown.

Three men were been arrested, one on suspicion of attempted murder.

Many of those engaging in violence were youths, some of them of a very young age.

The latest night of disorder flared after the city hosted Twelfth of July Orange Order parades.

Members of the public were also targeted in the violence.

At one point, a hooded rioter hurled a petrol bomb at the windscreen of a van passing through the Bogside from point blank range.

The majority of the missiles were aimed at police stationed on the historic city walls overlooking the Bogside and on Fahan Street leading to the city centre.

Large groups of hooded teenagers lined the streets of the Bogside from 9pm, carrying petrol bombs in shopping bags before starting a makeshift bonfire at the bottom of a busy flyover, in an apparent attempt to goad police into the area.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said his officers were subject to a “prolonged and sustained attack”.

“I am saddened, disheartened and frustrated that yet again police officers committed to keeping this local community safe have been attacked by a small number of people within it,” he said.

“It is nothing short of a miracle that officers were not injured.

“During this reckless disorder four AEP rounds were fired by my colleagues and we have arrested three males, aged 18 and 22 years old and aged approximately 50 years old.

“The 22-year-old had been arrested for attempted murder.

“While we have seen many young people involved in these attacks over the last number of nights, it is clear that this is being orchestrated by a more sinister, adult, violent dissident republican element.

“This cannot continue. This must end now.

“I am asking every community leader and every single person with influence in Derry/Londonderry to help us stop these attacks on police and the wider community of the city.”

It was the sixth night of violence in the area.

This week has already witnessed two dissident republican murder bids against police officers in Derry.

On Tuesday night, a volley of machine gun fire was directed at officers and on Wednesday night two pipe bombs were thrown at police. No-one was injured.

As well as police, rioters have also targeted homes in the nearby unionist Fountain estate.

Wednesday night also brought violent scenes in Belfast, with loyalists blamed for the disorder.

Masked men hijacked and torched vehicles amid anger about moves to reduce the size of two loyalist Eleventh Night bonfires.

Thousands of Orange Order members took part in Twelfth of July parades across Northern Ireland on Thursday to mark the 1690 victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne. It is the biggest date in the Protestant loyal order parading calendar.

The Police Federation, the body that represents rank-and-file PSNI officers, described the dissident republicans involved as a “pitiless, heartless bunch of cowards”.

Federation chair Mark Lindsay called on the community to take back the streets from the “gangsters”.

“Only through the professionalism and courage of our men and women was a tragedy averted,” he said.

“In the teeth of such attacks, our officers continued to safeguard people and maintain the rule of law, and that is a tribute to their focused and unwavering dedication and determination.

“The terrorists who skulk in the shadows get children – some no older than 12 – to do their dirty work by firing petrol bombs, bricks and bottles at police lines.

“Once the police engage, the bomber and gunman take control and they really don’t care who gets in the way or who is hurt in their indiscriminate attacks.”

The Government has condemned the violence.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said: “The disorder in Derry/Londonderry last night, including targeted attacks on police vehicles and others, was completely unacceptable. These sustained attacks have been widely condemned and must end.

“My full support goes to the PSNI and others who are working so hard to end this intolerable violence by a small minority.”

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster tweeted: “Really disturbing scenes last night in Londonderry. Someone will be killed if this continues. The main Party Leaders have jointly called for rioting to end. The police are risking life & limb trying to tackle this. All violence must be condemned.”

Sinn Fein MP for Foyle Elisha McCallion said: “This has got to end before someone gets killed.”

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