The Northern Ireland city of Belfast saw a fifth straight night of rioting by British loyalists, amid growing unrest over a dispute concerning the British union flag.
While around 1,000 pro-British loyalists held a peaceful demonstration, Al Jazeera reported that a group of around 250 clashed with police near a known boundary between loyalist and republican neighborhoods.
The police used plastic bullets and water canons to quell the riots, while The New York Times said rioters were armed with hatchets, sledge hammers and gasoline bombs.
Northern Ireland has largely been at peace since the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998. Nearly 3,500 people were killed in the preceding three decades of sectarian violence between Northern Irish Protestants and Catholics.
The current unrest stems from the Belfast City Council's decision on Dec. 3 to limit the number of days the British union flag could be flown over the City Hall to 17. The chief constable for the Police Service of Northern Ireland blamed the violence on members of the loyalist group Ulster Volunteer Force, who were "orchestrating violence for their own selfish motives," said CNN.