Police attended the Distillery Street area of Belfast this afternoon in support of contractors who were tasked by the landowner to remove bonfire material.

Superintendent Melanie Jones said, “During the operation, officers came under sustained attack from large groups of youths throwing petrol bombs, masonry and other missiles towards police. At this point we can confirm that at least 26 officers have sustained injuries and are currently receiving treatment.

“Footage from evidence gathering cameras will be reviewed and all efforts will be made to identify those involved in the completely unacceptable violence we have seen here today.

“We will continue to work with the local community, representatives and other partners to address this issue, but it is disappointing that some young people and their guardians are not listening to our repeated warnings.

“People who choose to engage in criminal and anti-social behaviour must understand it is unacceptable and must stop. People have a right to live in peace and to feel safe in their communities.

“Parents and guardians have an important obligation to keep young people safe by knowing where they are going and who they are with. Young people must understand the dangers of getting involved in behaviour which could result in them injuring themselves or others, or ultimately, ending up with a criminal record.

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