BELFAST - Northern Irish police came under attack by pro-British loyalists on Friday as the province's first minister branded rioters a disgrace and said they were playing into the hands of rival militant nationalists.
Rioting began a month ago after a vote by mostly nationalist pro-Irish councilors to end the century-old tradition of flying the British flag from Belfast City Hall every day unleashed the most sustained period of violence in the city for years.
On Friday, police came under attack in the east of the city by masked mobs hurling petrol bombs, rocks and fireworks. Police said one of its officers was injured and that it deployed water cannon to control the crowd of some 400 protesters.
More than 40 police officers were injured in the initial wave of fighting, which stopped over Christmas, only to resume on Thursday when a further 10 police officers were hurt as the community divisions were exposed once more.