Northern Ireland

Short Strand:shots fired by nationalists and loyalists

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Media captionThe BBC's Mark Simpson on the events in east Belfast

Shots were fired by nationalist and loyalist crowds during disturbances in east Belfast's Short Strand area, the police have said.

Trouble broke out between rioters at a sectarian interface on the lower Newtownards Road and Mountpottinger Road around 2000 BST on Monday.

Petrol bombs were thrown and homes were damaged during the trouble.

Police came under attack trying to restore order.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall O Donnghaile, a Sinn Fein councillor for the area, claims it was an orchestrated attack by loyalists.

He told the BBC that 60-100 masked men fully dressed in camouflage gear had attacked homes.

"I witnessed one young man being taken away in an ambulance with a serious head injury as a result of some of the missiles that were coming over," Mr O Donnghaile said.

"There was upwards of a 100 masked men with surgical rubber gloves on throwing petrol bombs, paint bombs, bricks, bottles at homes at various locations."

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland said several hundred people "were involved in hand-to-hand fighting".

"You have two sides to these stories. My understanding is that homes on the Newtownards Road have been attacked from Strand Walk and the grounds of St Matthew's in the last couple of nights," he said.

"It really doesn't really matter who is responsible at this stage. It's getting it stopped that is the problem."

Police worked with community and youth workers to defuse the situation.

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