Cars were torched as masked rioters threw petrol bombs in an “orchestrated attack” on police officers in Northern Ireland.
Political leaders appealed for calm after rioting on Friday but by Saturday evening, police confirmed more violence had broken out in Newtownabbey, on the northern outskirts of the capital Belfast.
Rival political parties blamed each other for the second consecutive night of disorder.
“We again saw people taking to the streets of Northern Ireland to riot. A crowd of approximately 20 to 30 people, consisting of young people and older men, some of whom were wearing masks, gathered in the O’Neill Road/Cloughfern area of Newtownabbey,” area commander Chief Supt Davy Beck said.
“In total, 30 petrol bombs were thrown at police and three vehicles were hijacked and set on fire.”
A video posted on Twitter by the police in Northern Ireland showed four masked figures throwing petrol bombs from close range at an armoured police van, which they also kicked and punched.
“This was an orchestrated attack on police who were carrying out their duties to help protect the people of Newtownabbey,” Chief Supt Beck said.
The republican Sinn Fein party blamed the loyalist Democratic Unionist Party for stoking tension.
A DUP politician, Christopher Stalford, said rioters were “acting out of frustration” after prosecutors opted not to charge any members of Sinn Fein last week with breaches of Covid-19 restrictions. The DUP called for the head of the police force to resign over the issue.
“My officers put on their uniform every day and go out into the community they serve, not knowing what lies ahead of them. However, this does not deter them from turning up every day to do their duty,” Chief Supt Beck said.
“We are living in unprecedented times, dealing with a global pandemic. No one needs the added pressure of disorder in their community. Everyone deserves to live in peace, free from violence.
“I would appeal to those who are taking to the streets to stop immediately. Their actions are causing nothing but harm and distress to the very communities they claim they are representing.
“The people of Northern Ireland deserve better.”
Fifteen officers were injured in the Sandy Row area of Belfast on Friday, when a small protest developed into a riot.
Police said the rioters attacked them with masonry, metal rods, fireworks and manhole covers.
The injuries included burns, head wounds and a broken leg.
Seven people, including two boys, aged 13 and 14, were charged in connection with the riot.