Moment Belfast rioters hijack and firebomb bus to turn it into terrifying weapon in Northern Ireland
THIS is the moment Belfast rioters hijack and firebomb a bus to turn it into a terrifying weapon.
A hooded man was filmed hurling a lit petrol bomb in through the open bus door after the handbrake was removed and it rolled, flaming, down the street.
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Cheers rang out as the bottle exploded inside the bus, with the fireball moving down the road surrounded by rioters.
Windows were smashed in as flames spread throughout the inside of the bus and it gathered speed.
Sirens wailed in the distance as cops try to get the clashes between loyalists and nationalists under control.
The shocking sight of the huge flaming vehicle moving through the city was captured as violent crowds swarmed the streets – before coming to a halt and burning out entirely.
It didn't appear to have hit anyone or other cars before stopping and burning to the ground.
Seven cops have been left hurt after they were pelted with stones overnight during a night of chaos in Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted he was "deeply concerned" as hundreds continue to riot on the streets of Belfast.
The bus was set alight after being pelted with petrol bombs at the junction of Lanark Way and Shankill Road in west Belfast, the PSNI said.
Ministers in the Stormont Executive have been urged to speak with a united voice in condemning rioting that has erupted in Northern Ireland.
The call from the Police Federation came ahead of a meeting of the powersharing administration to discuss the escalating public order situation in the region.
The Stormont Assembly is also being recalled from the Easter recess for an emergency sitting later on Thursday morning to debate the violence, which has mostly flared in loyalist areas.
The federation said at least another seven officers were injured in Wednesday night's violence in Belfast.
A total of 41 officers sustained injuries in previous outbreaks of disorder in various parts of Northern Ireland in recent days.
The violence is unfolding at a time of increasing rancour in the political sphere amid tensions over Brexit's Irish Sea trade border and the fallout from the police's handling of a mass republican funeral that took place during pandemic restrictions last year.
As rioting has flared across Northern Ireland, all four main unionist parties continue to call for PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne to quit over how his service dealt with the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey last year.
Unionists are furious at a decision by prosecutors not to take action against 24 Sinn Fein politicians, including deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, for attending the funeral – a decision partly related to the fact police engaged with the organisers before an event that drew 2,000 people on to the streets.
"I think the Executive need to stand together and need to make very, very firm statements around where they stand in the support in law and order," he told BBC Radio Ulster.
Police Federation chair Mark Lindsay expressed concern that the row over Mr Byrne's future was playing out at such a turbulent time.
I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist.
"They cannot differentiate between supporting the Chief Constable and supporting officers on the ground.
"Policing needs leadership, it needs a Chief Constable, and really in the middle of a crisis this isn't terribly helpful.
"We all have to work with our Chief Constable, we do need a Chief Constable. I don't think removing him at this stage would be terribly helpful."
Mr Lindsay said Wednesday's violence was "disturbing" and escalated a "couple of notches" from the disorder witnessed over previous days.
"The latest information I have is that there were seven more injured last night and that's only officers whose injuries were reported at the time and that includes injuries to lower limbs and some concussion," he said.
"Obviously my thoughts are with them this morning, but we're probably going to see some more injuries documented as the day goes on."
Boris Johnson tweeted: "I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist.
"The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality."
Irish premier Micheal Martin also condemned Wednesday night's events, tweeting: "I utterly condemn the violent attacks on police, a journalist, and bus driver over recent days in The North.
"Now is the time for the two Governments and leaders on all sides to work together to defuse tensions and restore calm."
DUP First Minister Arlene Foster condemned the attacks on Twitter last night, saying: "There is no justification for violence. It is wrong and should stop.
"This is not protest. This is vandalism and attempted murder. These actions do not represent unionism or loyalism.
"They are an embarrassment to Northern Ireland and only serve to take the focus off the real law breakers in Sinn Fein. My thoughts are with the bus driver."
'WRONG AND SHOULD STOP'
Her suggestion that Sinn Fein were the "real law breakers" in a tweet about the hijack and destruction of a bus during rioting has been met with condemnation from political rivals.
Alliance Party Justice Minister Naomi Long tabled the motion requesting the recall of the Assembly.
She said her party's intention was to get all parties at Stormont to "unite around a call for calm and the cessation of violence".
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said several hundred people gathered on each side of the peace wall gate at Lanark Way in west Belfast from around 5pm on Wednesday, which escalated to "significant disorder where crowds from both sides of the gate were committing serious criminal offences, both attacking police and attacking each other".
Mr Roberts said multiple petrol bombs and missiles, including fireworks and heavy masonry, were thrown.
"This has to be condemned in the strongest possible terms," he told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.
"Over the last six nights, we now have 55 police officers injured as a result of disorder across the country."
It was one of a number of violent incidents unfolding on the peace line street that links the loyalist Shankill Road with the nationalist Springfield Road.
Mr Roberts said: "All of which is completely inexcusable and will be investigated thoroughly by the PSNI going forward."
He said it is "clear there was a degree of organisation" of the violence.
Mr Roberts said two adults have been arrested following the incidents in Belfast and remain in custody.
Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said: "Disgraceful scenes of criminality tonight including a potentially lethal attack on bus driver and assault on journalist.
"Unequivocal condemnation needed and protests should be called off immediately – police need support not politicking."
This is not protest, this is vandalism and attempted murder, these actions do not represent unionism or loyalism
Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon described the attack on the bus as "sickening".
She said: "Those attacking their own communities and their own public services are achieving nothing and if this doesn't stop now it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.
"Tonight with deep regret Translink has had to suspended some services in Belfast due to ongoing disturbances.
"Thankfully no one has been hurt in this incidence, but those responsible for this attack, and ongoing attacks on the police, need to stop and stop now.
"I appeal for calm and call on those destroying their own communities and those fanning the flames to end this recklessness before someone is seriously hurt or killed."
Riots and attacks on police have taken place repeatedly throughout the last week and have now resumed after a relative lull on Tuesday.
Police were attacked during another night of violence in a number of loyalist areas on Monday.
Nine officers were injured in Ballymena, taking to 41 the number injured in disorder across Northern Ireland since last Friday night.
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