Cops hurt in N.Ireland flag clashes

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iol news pic Belfast flag clashes Reuters Loyalist protesters block Cregagh Road in East Belfast after a decision was made to remove the British flag from Belfast's City Hall January 4, 2013. Eight police officers were injured in Northern Ireland on Thursday when protests at the removal of the British flag from Belfast City Hall turned violent for the first time in more than two weeks. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

London - Northern Ireland loyalists injured several police officers during demonstrations to protest against the Belfast city council's decision to reduce the number of days on which it displays the pro-British Union Jack flag, police said Saturday.

A crowd of 300 people in the east of the city hurled fireworks, bricks and petrol bombs at police officers late on Friday. The police deployed a water cannon to disperse the crowd and made arrests.

Ten police officers were injured in similar clashes with protesters in the capital late on Thursday.

Angry street demonstrations by Protestants have been taking place in Belfast since December 3, when the city council decided to limit the days during which the flag will be flown over City Hall.

Protestants have said that the decision to fly the flag only on certain days of the year is a sign of too many concessions being made to Catholics as a result of the peace process.

The pro-British flag has been flying over Belfast's landmark City Hall since 1906, signifying the links between Britain and the province of Northern Ireland. - Sapa-dpa


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