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Call for calm as Belfast suffers third night of trouble

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    A man throws a piece of furniture during a clash between loyalist protesters and riot police in North Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 13, 2013. Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson has called for peace as riots erupted in Belfast for the third night running, injuring a police officer. (AFP)

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    An injured policeman is carried away during clashes with Orangemen protesters on the return from a march in north Belfast, Northern Ireland, on July 12, 2013. Seven officers were injured on Saturday after being attacked with petrol bombs by Protestant rioters in the Northern Irish capital, a spokeswoman said. (AFP)

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    An Orangeman confronts riot police on Shankill road in north Belfast, on July 13, 2013. The July 12 parade marks the victory of Protestant king William III of Orange over the deposed Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. (AFP)

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson has called for peace as riots erupted in Belfast for the third night running, injuring a police officer.

Seven officers were injured on Saturday after being attacked with petrol bombs by Protestant rioters in the Northern Irish capital, a spokeswoman said.

"It's very important that this violence stops," said Robinson.

"It's very important that cool heads prevail in these circumstances and I hope people will obey the announcement and statement by the Orange Institution that people should desist from violence.

"The only kind of protest that is ever justifiable is a lawful and peaceful protest," he added.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said one officer had been injured in Sunday's clashes.

Bricks, bottles, furniture and other missiles were hurled on Saturday night by hooded youths, some with British flags covering their faces.

The seven officers injured on Saturday did not require hospital treatment and remained on duty.

On Friday night, 32 officers were injured and a leading politician was knocked unconscious by a brick.

About a thousand police officers from mainland Britain were sent to Northern Ireland in anticipation of tensions over the traditional Twelfth of July parades, the pinnacle of the Protestant Orange Order's marching season.

Trouble flared Friday after police tried to enforce a decision by an adjudication body banning the Orange Order from marching through a Catholic republican area of Belfast.

"The scenes were both shameful and disgraceful," Chief Constable Matt Baggott of the PSNI told reporters on Saturday.

He criticised leaders in the Orange Order who had called for protests against the decision to block their march through the republican Ardoyne area, saying they had been "reckless".

Nigel Dodds, the member of parliament for North Belfast, was taken to hospital after being hit on the head with a brick while trying to calm the crowds down on Friday night. He was later discharged.

The July 12 parade marks the victory of Protestant king William III of Orange over the deposed Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

It is a flashpoint for tensions between the Protestant and Catholic communities in the province, which was devastated by three decades of sectarian violence in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The 1998 Good Friday peace accords largely brought an end to the unrest, known as The Troubles, although sporadic violence and bomb threats continue.