Loyalists attack riot police close to the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday, July 12, 2013. Protestant hardliners attacked lines of Belfast riot police Friday as Northern Ireland’s annual mass marches by the Orange Order brotherhood reached a furious, chaotic end with running street battles at several urban conflict zones. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Protestant hardliners attacked lines of Belfast riot police Friday as Northern Ireland’s annual mass marches by the Orange Order brotherhood reached a furious, chaotic end with running street battles at several conflict zones.
In north Belfast, police in flame-retardant suits and helmets deployed a half-dozen armored cars to block a road so that Protestant Orangemen could not march past the edge of Ardoyne, a militant Catholic district that has become the most bitterly contested spot on the city map.
Men jumped on top of the armored barricade and, as hundreds of marchers and supporters formed a sea of often alcohol-fueled fury behind them, wielded pipes, golf clubs, wood planks and even ceremonial swords to vandalize the police vans.
Emboldened, some threw bottles and bricks point-blank into police lines. Many in the mob cheered as one policeman, struck and knocked semiconscious, was dragged to safety by colleagues.
Officers responded by firing a massive mobile water cannon at the rioters, propelling at least one shirtless man sideways off the roof of an armored car and on to the pavement, his forehead split open.
But the Protestant crowd kept swelling and hurling objects into police lines, forcing officers to respond with volleys of snub-nosed plastic bullets in a failed bid to force the crowd to Login to read more