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Violence returns to the streets of Belfast

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Overnight violence spilled into the day on Saturday in the northern Irish city of Belfast when more than 1,000 pro-British loyalist demonstrators clashed with riot police over the flying of the union flag. There was a massive police presence at the protest following Thursday's and Friday's violence in the eastern part of Belfast. As the crowds began to disperse a core of some 100 or so masked youths started throwing stones and firecrackers at the police who responded with dog charges and water canons. Loyalist violence on Friday night saw 18 people arrested and nine police officers injured in other clashes. More than 30 petrol bombs, along with fireworks, ball bearings and masonry, were hurled at officers during a sustained attack in the east of the city. Up to 300 people were involved in the night disturbances. Rioting began a month ago after a vote by mostly nationalist pro-Irish councilors to end the century-old tradition of flying the British flag from Belfast City Hall every day unleashed the most sustained period of violence in the city for years. At least 3,600 people were killed during Northern Ireland's darkest period as Catholic nationalists seeking union with Ireland fought British security forces and mainly Protestant loyalists determined to remain part of the United Kingdom.

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