Eight members of PSNI injured following riots in loyalist area of south Belfast

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A local protest turned violent shortly after 8pm last night.

EIGHT POLICE OFFICERS in the North have been injured following riots in a loyalist area of south Belfast last night.

Officers were targeted by crowds throwing bricks, metal rods, fireworks and manhole covers after 8pm, when a small protest in the Sandy Row area turned violent.

The injuries reported include burns and head and leg injuries.

Seven people were arrested, and a senior Belfast police officer appealed for calm following the disturbances.

“I am appealing to all those involved to stop this appalling behaviour immediately,” Belfast District Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said.

“Police are trying to protect those living in the Shaftesbury Square, Donegall Road and Sandy Row areas and it is completely unacceptable that my officers are coming under sustained attack.

“I would encourage anyone who has influence to use it now and stop the rioting before anyone else is injured, or worse.”

His comments were echoed by Stormont Justice Minister and Alliance leader Naomi Long, who said that words used by political leaders “have consequences”.

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“This is in no-one’s best interests – not the officers dealing with it and not the mostly young people risking their futures by engaging in it,” she tweeted.

“It’s incumbent on leaders to behave responsibly and dial down the inflammatory rhetoric over recent days.”

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