The behaviour of youths who attacked police cars in Strabane with stones as they helped remove the remains of a person who had died suddenly has been slammed as “disgraceful”.
PSNI officers were called to the scene at the Ballycolman Estate at around 3pm on Monday after the report of the sudden death.
When youths began throwing stones at the police cars a few hours later Land Rovers were brought in for back-up. The stoning lasted between 20 and 40 minutes, a police spokesman confirmed.
No-one was injured during the incident.
SDLP councillor Patsy Kelly said the attack had caused unnecessary extra suffering for a grieving family.
“I firstly want to express my condolences to those who are grieving at the loss of a close family member. This is a difficult time and has not been made easier by what happened yesterday evening.
“This was a senseless attack on police officers while they try to deal with a very difficult and emotional situation while supporting a family in grief. Those responsible have only added to the trauma of the family involved and should be ashamed of themselves.
“I understand that police had initially chosen to use standard cars while reaching the scene in the Ballycolman estate in an attempt to show sensitivity.”
West Tyrone MLA Tom Buchanan said all elected representatives must send a strong message that the attacks of this nature are unacceptable.
“There can be absolutely no justification for an attack on police officers as they carry out their duties,” said Mr Buchanan. “In this situation in Strabane they were already dealing with a sensitive issue when they were met with an attack by youths throwing stones.
“There is obviously a leadership role within Strabane for all elected representatives to send out a clear message also that such behaviour is not acceptable and that the police must receive our full support.”