Fears lives will be lost if Londonderry violence continues

The Fountain estate has come under repeated attack over the past week
The Fountain estate has come under repeated attack over the past week

Lives will be lost if republican violence in Londonderry continues to escalate, a local DUP representative has said.

Councillor Graham Warke said both the mainly Protestant community in the Fountain area and the police are being put at grave risk.

Six shots were fired at PSNI officers close to the city walls on Tuesday night following several nights of petrol bomb and missile attacks on the Fountain estate from the Bogside.

Mr Warke, who is also a community worker in the area, said: “Tensions are very high after the shots being fired. That has definitely upped the ante in terms of the violence.

“Somebody is going to get killed ... and I know the vast majority of people in the Bogside don’t want that. There were no attacks on the Fountain [on Tuesday], but I heard the shots being fired and that created a lot of fear because it took the police a while to establish exactly what it was.”

Mr Warke said a strong police presence was visible last night while the Fountain residents enjoyed the bonfire celebrations.

“The last thing anybody wants to see is police getting hurt or killed, but the fact is there are people – dissident republicans – determined to take a police officer’s life.”

Mr Warke said the republican violence has been carried out without retaliation.

“The young people in the Fountain are a credit, because they haven’t retaliated once. There hasn’t been so much as a pebble going back over the interface.”

None of the officers targeted by the gunfire were injured and the bullets were later found lodged both in the city walls and nearby trees. It is believed the shots were fired from the vicinity of the Bogside Inn.

The PSNI are treating the incident as attempted murder.

Commenting on the riotous attacks, Chief Inspector Neil Beck said: “A number of males have been charged in connection with disorder over previous evenings and two of those are due to appear in court this morning. We have a robust strategy in place to identify those involved in the trouble of recent days and I am confident of further arrests.”

Secretary of State Karen Bradley said the “murderous attack” should be condemned by all right-thinking individuals.

The DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP, SDLP and Alliance issued a joint statement condemning the attacks and calling for an end to the violence.

Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said officers deserve the support of the entire community.

“This attack last night [Tuesday] was an act of pure evil, and attacks like this have got to stop,” he said.