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Police injured as Belfast street battles rage on

At least 29 police officers have been injured in fighting in the latest bout of violence in the Northern Ireland capital, Belfast. Clashes arose as Protestants marched to demonstrate at the city hall.

At least 29 police officers were injured amid street battles on Saturday as some 1,000 Protestants marched on Belfast City Hall.

Fighting broke our as the demonstrators, angry at a city council decision to reduce displays of the British flag, passed a Catholic enclave in Belfast's majority Protestant east.

Hooded Catholic youths hurled bottles and rocks at the protesters as a running street battle between the two groups broke out.

Officers caught in the middle used rubber bullets and water cannons to force the Protestants away from the district.

Scuffles also broke out on Friday as nationalists opposed to British sovereignty over Northern Ireland threw golf balls and stones at loyalist demonstrators returning from a similar rally.

The Belfast Telegraph newspaper reported that a pipe bomb had been found on one of the city's main roads.

The protests began six weeks ago, when the city council, which has an increasingly strong Nationalist faction, voted that the Union Jack would only be hoisted on designated days.

rc/mkg (AP, Reuters, dpa)