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Belfast City Council workers remove a barricade from a street after last night's violence. Peter Morrison/AP

UVF blamed for Belfast violence as police fear further tensions

UVF loyalists are blamed for orchestrating the violence, but republicans may be responsible for shooting a photographer.

THE POLICE SERVICE of Northern Ireland has blamed the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force for orchestrating the violence that has besieged a section of East Belfast for the last two nights.

BBC News reports that the loyalists were behind petrol bombs, missiles and fireworks thrown at police lines for a second successive night in the Short Strand area, in what is the worst violence in the area for a decade.

“Whether they [the UVF] have lost the influence to stop it, I don’t know,” PSNI assistance chief constable Alistair Finlay said.

“The bulk of this violence is coming from the loyalist community, and the UVF in east Belfast does have a role to play in that.”

It is thought that dissident republicans, however, may be responsible for a Press Association photographer receiving a gunshot wound to the leg while he was documenting the violence.

Photographer Niall Carson underwent surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital on his injury, but has since been discharged and hopes to make a full recovery.

Two other men were hospitalised with burn wounds in last night’s incidents.

Another PSNI spokesman told the Irish Times that while the PSNI was prepared for some violence in the area on Monday, “no one could have anticipated the scale of the disorder that took place”.

Authorities are fearful of another night of violence this evening, but are hopeful that the intervention of a senior government official – who is offering to work with local communities – will help to ease the conflict.

The UVF has officially been on ceasefire since May 2007, but has been accused of involvement in a series of violent incidents in the meantime.

The Guardian explains that the last major violence at Short Strand was in 2002, when republicans claimed that bunting to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee had been draped on their local Catholic church.

The Short Strand area is a primarily Catholic area, tucked within a predominantly Protestant part of Belfast city.

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