There has been more violence in the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast when Protestants rioted on Wednesday throwing gasoline bombs and setting off fireworks.

It was the fourth day of protests aimed at forcing authorities to allow a parade by the Orange Order, Northern Ireland’s once-dominant Protestant brotherhood.

British troops were in the firing line in Belfast for the first time in 12 months when youths began throwing rocks, fireworks and petrol bombs.

It follows a ban on an Orange Order parade down Garvaghy Road, the main Catholic section of Portadown, an overwhelmingly Protestant town 30 miles southwest of Belfast.

Masked youths tossed gasoline bombs at armoured cars and hijacked vehicles after thousands of hard-line Protestants blocked more than a dozen roads at evening rush hour.

Police said three officers suffered minor cuts and burns.

Black smoke from burning vehicles stained the evening sky in south-central Belfast, where Protestant youths also pounded drums and played anti-Catholic tunes on flutes.

Leaders of the Orange Order insist they aren’t responsible for the violence.

But they refused to halt protests unless they are allowed to take their march down Garvaghy Road on Sunday.

The British army deployed about 100 soldiers from the Royal Marines and Royal Green Jackets regiments into north Belfast to support police units there.

It was the army’s first deployment in Belfast since last July, when tensions over traditional Protestant marches produced little trouble.

British army headquarters reported that security forces had contained 61 riots in the previous 24 hours

An army communique said that was more protests than had happened in Northern Ireland throughout all of 1999.

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