Street violence hits Northern Ireland towns on eve of annual marches

Source: Reuters

BELFAST (Reuters) – Northern Ireland was hit by a barrage of street violence overnight on the eve of annual parades that often raise tensions between pro-British Protestants and Irish nationalist Catholics in the British region, police said on Thursday.

A car containing a suspect device is cordoned off by police in the middle of a road in East Belfast ahead of Twelfth of July celebrations held by members of Loyalist Orders in Belfast

A car containing a suspect device is cordoned off by police in the middle of a road in East Belfast ahead of Twelfth of July celebrations held by members of Loyalist Orders in Belfast, Northern Ireland July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Vehicles were burned, petrol bombs thrown and roads were closed off in violence in several towns on the eve of July 12 marches to mark the 1690 victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James of England.

The annual commemorations, seen as triumphalist by many Catholics, were flash points during 30 years of sectarian violence in the region, in which more than 3,000 people were killed. They have continued to spark low-level street violence since a 1998 peace deal largely ended paramilitary violence.

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