Catholics attack Ulster cops over Protestant march

AP News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2011 10:29 PM
Catholics attack Ulster cops over Protestant march

Northern Ireland police came under attack Saturday from Irish Catholic rioters in the British territory's second-largest city of Londonderry but reported no serious injuries.

Several hours of violence followed a peaceful parade through the medieval walled center of Londonderry by about 12,000 members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, a British Protestant brotherhood. Their annual march commemorates a 17th-century military victory over Irish Catholic forces, when the city's Protestant inhabitants survived a 105-day siege. The parade traditionally stirs Irish republican extremists in the predominantly Catholic city to riot.

Hours before the march, Irish republicans hurled dozens of Molotov cocktails at the Apprentice Boys' headquarters, causing light damage to the building, which overlooks the Catholic Bogside district.

Groups that support Irish Republican Army splinter groups scuffled with police on the fringe of the parade, then ratcheted up violence once the march was over. Police said three vehicles were hijacked and torched. In one incident, masked men dragged a mother and daughter from their car, which was then driven near police lines and destroyed.

Catholic gangs hurled dozens of Molotov cocktails and at least one crude homemade grenade at police lines, injuring nobody. Police said they seized nine Molotov cocktails and arrested one suspected rioter.

Northern Ireland's summertime Protestant marches almost always inspire conflict with Catholics and police. Last month, Belfast suffered two nights of Catholic rioting before and after annual parades by the province's other major Protestant brotherhood, the Orange Order. Policemen suffered 40 casualties during those clashes as they deployed mobile water cannons and volleys of plastic bullets against rioters.