DOZENS of petrol bombs and paint containers were thrown as republican youths laid siege to a police station in south Armagh at the weekend.
However, details of the attack, involving up to 50 people, were only released by police after a request for information was made by the News Letter.
Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy criticised how police reported the attack, saying there would be "serious suspicions" about why the "major public disturbance" was not reported within hours.
"Are they trying to save republicans from embarrassment here? Whatever the reasons, we need clarity to ensure public confidence in the police force," said Mr Kennedy.
In a statement released last night, police defended their decision not to proactively report the attack to the media, saying the PSNI has "a responsibility to release information where appropriate".
Police estimated that 20 petrol bombs and 30 paint containers were thrown, along with a barrage of other missiles including bricks and stones, at the building in Crossmaglen, where a number of officers were stationed on Halloween night.
Damage was caused to the exterior walls and gates of the station but no injuries were reported, a police spokesperson said yesterday.
Mr Kennedy said there was "little doubt" that the weekend violence had been an attempt to cause a "full-scale riot" by dissident republican elements.
"This was done maliciously, with the intent to draw police onto the streets, and possibly to create a riot situation," said Mr Kennedy.
"It does represent a serious concern about police resources. I fully accept that if police respond in large numbers it can make the situation more serious.
"Thankfully, this has passed off, but the question remains as to whether the police could handle a more escalated situation.
"Those behind this attack have no support locally, and their actions must be condemned. It was a cynical attempt to create violence and mayhem on the streets of Crossmaglen."
The PSNI's Department of Media and PR say they "release information proactively on all incidents at the direction of a senior investigating officer, who is ultimately in charge of what information is released into the public domain".
The statement continued: "In most cases information is released in order to make an appeal for information or witnesses, in order to progress the inquiry and assist the investigation team.
"The SIO may also decide not to release information and this may be for a number of reasons; for example, there may already be an arrest, detectives may be following a definite line of inquiry, or it may have a negative impact on an ongoing investigation. Information may also not be released to protect the identity of the victim, or at the wishes of the victim or their family. Each case is judged individually and a carefully considered decision taken."