A youth suspected of damaging a banner at a loyalist camp on Twaddell Avenue in Belfast has been arrested after allegedly slashing a police officer in the face with a knife.
The PSNI said that they attended the scene yesterday in response to an altercation between members of the public and a youth.
“It was alleged he had attempted to damage a banner on Twaddell Avenue,” a police spokesman said, adding that a 16-year-old was arrested after a police officer was assaulted with a Stanley knife.
He was arrested in connection with wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon and in relation to alleged damage of a banner, police said.
DUP councillor Brian Kingston said that when PSNI officers arrived on the scene they went over to the nearby Sportsman’s Inn to speak to a youth and it was then that a PSNI sergeant was slashed in the face with a knife.
“Clearly this is a very serious sequence of events,” he said. “I hope that the police officer will make a full recovery though it is possible that he will be left with a scar.
“This is the second time in less than a week that republicans have attacked flags and banners at the Twaddell camp with knives.
“This can only be viewed as an attempt to be provocative and to increase tension.
“Given this and previous attacks on the protest presence at Twaddell, it is imperative that the PSNI increase their presence in the area to prevent any further incidents.
“I appeal for calm and for people with influence in Ardoyne to do what they can to prevent these sectarian attacks from occurring.”
He called for anyone with information to bring it to police. There had been republican gun attacks on police in the vicinity of the camp and also a nail bomb attack, he said.
One local source said that the police officer was left with a two-and-a-half inch gash on his face.
On December 27 Belfast Lord Mayor and Sinn Fein councillor Mairtin O Muilleoir tweeted that “those who slashed banners at Twaddell have nothing to offer our people. Let’s keep focus on winning agreement from Haass talks”.
Loyalists are camping at Twaddell Avenue to press for the right to complete an Orange Order parade which had been blocked by the Parades Commission on July 12.