Dozens of police injured during republican bonfire removal in west Belfast

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By Q Radio News

Dozens of PSNI officers have been injured during the removal of a republican bonfire in west Belfast.  

A large group of youths hurled petrol bombs, stones and missiles at police who were assisting contractors tasked with removing material from the Distillery Street area earlier this afternoon. 

A total of 26 officers are receiving treatment after sustaining injuries. 

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."

The incident comes after police escaped injury after being targeted with missiles in the Lower Falls area on Friday during a similar operation.  

Bonfires are being gathered across Northern Ireland to mark the anniversary of internment later this month.

Superintendent Jones urged parents to take responsibility for their children who are putting themselves and others at risk. 

“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," she said. 

“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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