Photographer shot in second night of Belfast rioting

BBC's Mark Simpson: "There is a loyalist pro-British paramilitary faction called the UVF who seem to want to cause a lot of trouble at the moment"

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Police say about 700 people have been involved in a second night of sectarian violence near a Catholic enclave in east Belfast.

Three shots were fired in the lower Newtownards Road-Short Strand area but the gunman's target was not known.

A photographer was shot in the leg and police urged the media to stay away.

A barrage of petrol bombs, missiles and fireworks were thrown at police lines, in what is being reported as the worst trouble in the area for a decade.

Two other men were injured. They are believed to have suffered burn injuries.

The MP for the area, Naomi Long, told the BBC a man who was struck with a brick on Tuesday night has suffered a fractured skull.

She described the trouble as a "very serious situation" and said appeals from political representatives for calm had fallen on "deaf ears".

Gunfire

"People need to step back from this situation," she said.

"We have had another round of gunfire on Tuesday night, we have had someone else injured with a bullet wound.

"When you have guns back on streets, it is very clear that the intent here is to take life.

"There is no other reason why people would bring a gun onto the street, and I think that people need to take a step back and really think about what they are doing."

Analysis

Historically at this time of year there have been street clashes where Catholic areas meet Protestant districts.

But that has been in the past and violence has been relatively rare on the streets since the Good Friday Agreement 13 years ago. So this has sprung up as something of a surprise.

It's a part of east Belfast which historically has had a problem between a small number of Catholics and Protestants.

There have been a number of small-scale sectarian incidents in recent months.

There is a presence in the area of a faction of the pro-British loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force, a paramilitary organisation which signed up to the peace process but is becoming disillusioned.

They are flexing their muscle and, if you put those factors together, you begin to understand what is happening.

There was a large police presence, following Monday's sectarian clashes, and two water canon vehicles arrived. Roads were closed and police advised motorists to avoid the area.

The photographer - who works for a press agency - was said to be in a stable condition in the casualty department of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Another photographer was standing with other media, near police landrovers on the Lower Newtownards Road when the shooting happened.

"I looked back and there was somebody peering over the wall and he shot about five or six rounds," he said.

"We were all just running.

Blood

"The next thing I know a colleague of mine, he yells, 'I've been shot, I've been shot', and I looked back and his leg on the bottom part, I don't know if he was grazed, or if the bullet went in or what, but I looked at his trousers and his trousers were all stained.

"It was wet, it was obviously blood."

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said the man's injuries were not life-threatening.

Police appealed for all media to stay out of east Belfast "for their own safety".

Officers fired a number of plastic baton rounds at rioters.

Earlier on Tuesday, a senior police officer described shots aimed at officers during rioting in east Belfast on Monday night as "attempted murder".

Ch Supt Alan McCrum said the trouble had been "orchestrated" by loyalist paramilitary group the UVF.

Two men were treated in hospital for gun shot wounds. A total of 11 shots were fired - six from the nationalist side and five from loyalists.

Two shots hit a police Land Rover. Police said it was "clearly an attempt to murder police officers".

Petrol bombs, fireworks, bricks, stones and smoke bombs were thrown and homes were damaged during the disturbances.

The PSNI said between 400 to 500 people had been involved in the disorder.

Ch Supt McCrum said the trouble started after a group of young men came out of the loyalist Mount and Castlereagh Street areas, and made their way into the Catholic enclave of Short Strand.

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