Crowds mostly young men in a pro-UK area of Belfast city in Northern Ireland set a hijacked bus down with petrol bombs and attacked police with stones in the latest outbreak of violence. last week.
Videos circulating on social networks showed that the bus was hit by incendiary devices and then completely burned down.
According to several media, a press photographer was also assaulted.
In recent days, protesters have burned cars and threw Molotov cocktails and chunks of stone at police in several towns in Northern Ireland.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” by the growing disorder.
Violence erupted in the city of Londonderry last week, before spreading to the capital city of Belfast and outlying areas over Easter weekend and through Monday.
Small groups of masked people set cars on fire and threw gasoline bombs and stones at police, injuring 41 police officers.
Bands of masked men set cars on fire and threw petrol bombs in recent violence
Police responded by forming ranks with riot shields and armored vehicles to take to the streets, arresting teenagers and young adults.
The upsurge in violence comes amid growing frustration within the pro-British Unionist community over new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK resulting from Britain’s exit from the United Kingdom. ‘European Union.
What is driving the unrest?
A generation ago, Belfast was embroiled in conflict between those who advocated Irish independence and those who were loyal to Britain.
Belfast was the center of the so-called unrest between 1969 and 2001, when more than 1,600 people were killed in sectarian strife across the divided and militarily occupied city.
The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 is widely credited with ending what had become a low-level civil war.
But memories of the violent past loom over the present as the region remains deeply divided.
Wednesday’s violence took place near Shankill Road, west Belfast, near a so-called “peace wall” that separates the most Protestant trade union community from the predominantly Catholic Irish nationalist stronghold of Falls Road, where groups of young people also gathered.
The British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said the recent clashes stemmed from a police decision not to prosecute members of the Irish Nationalist Party Sinn Fein for attending the funeral of a former paramilitary leader in the Republican Army Irish woman in apparent COVID violation. -19 restrictions.
“These actions do not represent unionism or loyalty. They are a disgrace for Northern Ireland,” wrote DUP leader Arlene Foster in a Twitter post which then described Sinn Fein’s rivals as “the real law breakers “.
Sinn Fein in turn accused the DUP of fueling tensions with its staunch opposition to the new trade deals mandated by Brexit. In recent days, they have called on the region’s police chief to resign.
What role does Brexit play in the violence?
The Good Friday Peace Accords of 1998 allowed unionists and nationalists to coexist by blurring the status of the region, by dissolving border controls with the European Union member state, the Republic of Ireland.
But the British decision to leave the bloc threatened to upset the fragile peace by demanding the return of border controls.
Negotiators agreed on a special “protocol” for Northern Ireland, transferring land border controls to ports in Northern Ireland.
The new controls – which effectively keep Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union and single market – have disrupted trade with the UK.
Graffiti in Belfast refers to Irish Sea border and frustration over Brexit terms
Although Prime Minister Johnson’s spokesperson declined to comment on the causes of the unrest, Belfast Telegraph Correspondent Allison Morris wrote that the rioters don’t care about the complexity of UK-EU trade, “but they know they’re angry.”
“They understand that they have been betrayed by the very British government to which their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were slavishly loyal,” she wrote.
New graffiti appeared in union areas depicting the gun crosshair symbol and the phrase “all bets are off”.
mb / sms (TBEN, dpa, Reuters)