Worst rioting in years in Belfast

Two men are being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds after loyalist paramilitaries attacked a nationalist enclave in East Belfast on Monday night.

Violence erupted at the Short Strand/Newtownards Road interface after nine o'clock on Monday evening. It has been described as the worst rioting in the area in ten years.

Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum said the trouble was "orchestrated" by the loyalist paramilitary group, the UVF.

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Two men are being treated in hospital for gun shot wounds after 11 shots were fired - six from the nationalist side and five from loyalists.

The trouble began when up to 100 loyalists attacked the nationalist Short Strand. Later, petrol bombs, fireworks, bricks and stones were thrown by both sides and several homes were damaged.

"We believe at this point that members of the east Belfast UVF were involved, said McCrum'

"It would be a line of investigation to establish whether that was a coordinated and organized 'organizational" position (by the UVF leadership). But at this point we are satisfied that at the very least members of East Belfast UVF were involved in organizing the disorder."

Two young men on the Protestant side were injured, both shot in the legs.

Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey was present during the disturbances.

"I am very clear in what I am saying," he said.

"I am making a very serious statement and as far as people in the Short Strand are concerned, the UVF launched an attack on the Catholic community in this area. I think it's absolutely disgraceful."

The PSNI said between 400 to 500 people were involved in the disorder. Tension has been mounting in the area in recent weeks with UVF murals appearing on several walls on the Lower Newtownards Road.