Confirmation today that the East Belfast wing of the British Unionist terrorist group, the UVF, organised the sustained assault on the Irish Nationalist enclave of the Short Strand last night, in the east of the city. Up to 500 Unionists, many in paramilitary clothing, took part in the attacks, with the Nationalist community of the Strand coming under fire from stones, bottles, petrol bombs, blast bombs and gun shoots. Amongst numerous injuries is reported the wounding of three men in an exchange of gun fire, as well as major damage to homes and other property, with a number of families being forced to flee their houses.
‘Two people received gunshot wounds to the leg when a total of 11 shots were fired during the violence in the lower Newtownards Road area, which erupted at around 9pm on Monday and lasted for more than four hours.
A number of petrol bombs were also thrown during the disturbance close to the Short Stand interface, which involved around 500 loyalist and nationalist rioters, including men wearing balaclavas and camouflage.
Bricks, bottles, fireworks and smoke bombs were also thrown and homes damaged in what police called a “high-level, life-threatening, organised, serious and sustained” attack by people “hell-bent on disorder”.
Police said members of the Ulster Volunteer Force were initially behind the violence, but the gun shots were fired from both sides of the community.’
The Guardian reports:
‘Sinn Féin blamed scores of masked men, who a party representative said were wearing camouflage clothing and surgical gloves, for launching co-ordinated attacks on the Catholic Short Strand area.
The Belfast mayor, Niall Ó Donnghaile, a councillor based in the Short Strand area, said a number of residents had been injured, including one man knocked unconscious when he was hit with a brick.
Ó Donnghaile said: “There is no doubt that this was unprovoked and was a carefully orchestrated and planned attack on the area. Homes have been attacked with petrol bombs and paint bombs, bricks, golf balls. I saw what happened.”‘
It is reported that a number of shots were fired from the direction of St. Matthews Church towards Unionist rioters in an eerie echo of the very earliest years of the conflict in the North of Ireland, when members of the Irish Republican Army defended the local Nationalist enclave from attacks by Unionist mobs in the Battle of St. Matthews, one of the major contributions towards the growth of the Provisional IRA in the early 1970s. However the BBC reports:
‘The PSNI said there was nothing to suggest that members of the Provisional IRA (PIRA) had fired shots and it was too early to say if dissident republicans were involved as their investigations were continuing.’
In recent months the UVF has been attempting to reassert its authority in Unionist areas of Belfast, following a period of relative inactivity. The terrorist grouping is thought to be undergoing considerable tensions over the direction and control of the organisation with dissension in its leadership. The UVF has a notorious record for its terrorist campaign in Ireland, much of it under the direction of the British state, with the British Intelligence services, Army and paramilitary police exercising considerable control over the group in previous decades, as well as helping to arm and fund it.
- British Unionist Gangs Attack Nationalist Community In Belfast (ansionnachfionn.wordpress.com)
- “They’ve hit homes with paint bombs, pipe bombs and petrol bombs.” (sluggerotoole.com)
- Loyalist violence returns to the Short Strand enclave (sluggerotoole.com)
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