Northern Ireland Sees Fifth Night Of Riots



BELFAST- The North Ireland capital of Belfast saw its fifth consecutive night of violence last night after a largely peaceful demonstration at City Hall erupted into riot.

The Union flag over Belfast City Hall. Photo: Anosmia via Flickr

The Belfast Telegraph reports that loyalist protests have been continuing across Northern Ireland since early December in response to the vote by Belfast councilors to only fly the Union flag at Belfast City Hall on certain designated days instead of year-round. The first of these days will be this Wednesday, to mark the birthday of Prince William's pregnant wife, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Loyalists believe that Northern Ireland should stay part of the United Kingdom, and defend the "Union" with Great Britain.

Water canons and five baton rounds were deployed last night as the some of the demonstrators returned from the center and went past volatile areas of the city. The Irish Times reports that calm was once again restored at about 10 p.m. Eight arrests were made, bringing the total since the violence began to 104, according to the BBC.

According to RTE, Police Chief Constable Matt Baggott had earlier said that senior members of the loyalist paramilitary group – the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) – in east Belfast have been increasingly orchestrating some of the loyalist violence in the row over the union flag. Mr Baggott also called on all those involved to take a step back and made known his concern over the number of young people involved.

More than 60 police officers have been injured in the last five weeks by petrol bombs, paint bombs, fireworks and heavy masonry while rioters have damaged vehicles with hatchets and sledge hammers.

Councilors had received death threats when the decision was first taken last month, as well as attacks on their homes. During her visit to Belfast in December, Hillary Clinton called for peace, condemning the violent storm that was brewing. Mrs Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, were vital to the peace process during the 1990's.

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File:Parsin Gas and CNG Station in Karaj-Qazvin Freeway, Iran ...

Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.

The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.

Though state officials didn't publicly accuse anyone specific, they did say perhaps this and other attacks had been planned for October, to "anger people" on the anniversary of the anti-government protests of 2019.

Khamenei, where's our gas?

Cheeky slogans were spotted Tuesday in different places in Iran, including electronic panels over motorways. One of them read "Khamenei, where's our gas?"

Iran International reported that Tehran-based news agency ISNA posted, then deleted, a report on drivers also seeing the message "cyberattack 64411" on screens at gas stations, purported to be the telephone number of the office of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A member of parliament's National Security Committee, Vahid Jalalzadeh, said the attack had been planned months ahead, and had inflicted "grave losses," Iran International and domestic agencies reported Thursday. The conservative Tehran newspaper Kayhan named "America, the Zionist regime and their goons" as the "chief suspects" in the attack.

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