40 Northern Ireland police hurt in 2-night riots

By the Associated Press | July 13, 2011 | 8:29 AM EDT

Workers sweep debris and rubbish from a street as a large clean up operation gets underway in Ardoyne, a district of Belfast, Northern Ireland Wednesday July 13, 2011 following serious rioting after marches by the Orange Order, a Protestant brotherhood whose yearly July 12 demonstrations celebrate 17th-century military triumphs over Catholics, passed through the area. Police firing plastic bullets and powerful water cannons forced Catholic militants away from a disputed Belfast road Tuesday as Northern Ireland's annual day of Protestant marches reached a fiery climax. Writing on building reads in Gaelic: Welcome to Ardoyne. (AP Photo/Colm O'Reilly)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Northern Ireland police say 40 officers have been injured during two nights of Catholic riots inspired by the mass parades of the province's Protestant majority.

A senior police commander, Alistair Finlay, says police have arrested 26 suspected rioters so far. Among them are several people who turned themselves in after suffering wounds that required hospitalization, including being struck by the police's blunt-nosed plastic bullets.

Finlay says officers suffered cuts and bruises, burns and whiplash.

Violence regularly accompanies the annual July 12 parades by the Orange Order. The Protestant brotherhood's parades themselves passed peacefully Tuesday, but several hundred Catholic youths attacked police both before and after the sectarian demonstrations.