20 officers hurt, 10 IRA gunshots in Belfast riots

By the Associated Press | July 13, 2012 | 11:17 AM EDT

Nationalist rioters in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, July 12, 2012. Trouble broke out after an Orange Order march passed the area. The Twelfth of July is the busiest day of the marching season in Northern Ireland with thousands of Orangemen and women, accompanied by marching bands, taking part in hundreds of parades. The Orange Order holds its main Belfast event, which commemorates King William III's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Northern Ireland police say 20 officers have been wounded in overnight Belfast riots that followed a token Protestant parade past a militant Catholic area, an annual confrontation that has triggered street fights for four straight years.

The commander of the police operation to quell rioting in the Ardoyne district, Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr, says Irish Republican Army die-hards fired about 10 gunshots at his officers early Friday but none was hit.

He says 20 officers have been treated for cuts, bruises and burns suffered during 10 hours of rioting that started after two dozen Protestant members of the Orange Order brotherhood marched past the edge of Ardoyne, a power base for IRA factions.

Most violence happened after authorities permitted Ardoyne residents to mount their own parade two hours later.