Northern Ireland news

'Dissidents were responsible' for automatic gunfire at police in Derry

Police at the scene on the Derry Walls above the Bogside in Derry yesterday after shots were fired at officers overnight on Tuesday. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Suzanne McGonagle and PA

POLICE say dissident republicans were behind a gun attack on officers in the Bogside area of Derry during a fourth night of disorder in the city.

Six shots were fired at the PSNI overnight on Tuesday, described as a "blatant bid to murder police officers".

None of the officers were injured during the disorder and the bullets were found yesterday in the city's walls and nearby trees.

It is believed the shots were automatic gunfire which came from the vicinity of the Bogside Inn. Around 16 petrol bombs and five paint bombs were also thrown close to the walls and at police patrols.

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton last night said a review of PSNI resources operating in Derry city and Strabane was carried out yesterday and 405 officers have been deployed.

District Commander Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said they believe dissident republicans fired the shots.

"It is quite clear that this attack was carried out by violent dissident republicans who we believe engineered the disorder we have seen in the city over the last number of nights," he said.

"While this is a serious and disturbing escalation it will not deter us from doing our job and that is protecting the people of this district."

The leaders of all of the main political parties yesterday united to condemn attacks on police amid ongoing unrest in Derry.

The DUP, Sinn Féin, UUP, SDLP and Alliance issued a rare joint statement condemning the attacks.

"Attacks on the police have been ongoing for a number of days alongside other violence including sectarian attacks on houses, petrol bombs thrown at the police, intimidation of contractors, vehicles hijacked and attacks on sheltered accommodation," they said.

"The shots fired last night were a clear and obvious attempt to murder police officers.

"There must be a strong, clear and united voice against those who would engage in such disgraceful violence.

"As a society we must all stand with those who maintain law and order and who protect all sides of our community. We condemn any illegal activity and urge those who are damaging their own community and intimidating their neighbours to stop.

"We would urge people to work with the police to bring those involved in criminality to justice. We want to see a society where people can live together without the threat of intimidation or violence.

"Those who engage in such tactics must be shown that they will not succeed."

Mark Lindsay, chairman of the Police Federation, described the shots fired in as "an act of pure evil".

"We have to see an all-out effort being made to rid communities of these 'dinosaurs' and to allow people to get on with their lives," he said.

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Northern Ireland news