Belfast Telegraph

Violence erupts as police foil attempted armed raid

By Jonathan McCambridge
15 February 2005

Violent scenes erupted in a Belfast housing estate today after a major police operation foiled an attempted armed robbery.

A group of angry residents attacked police vehicles with missiles after two men were arrested and a gun recovered in the Boundary Way area of the Shankill Road shortly before midday.

At one point up to ten police landrovers, sniffer dogs and specialist CCTV equipment were involved in the operation in the estate - a former stronghold of deposed UDA boss Johnny Adair.

There were unconfirmed reports that a juvenile was among those held by police.

It is understood the operation began following an attempt to hold up a Securicor van making a cash delivery to the Iceland store on the Shankill Road.

One local witness said police swooped on the scene after receiving a report of two youths acting suspiciously close to the shop.

There were also reports that police gave chase, following the men into the Shankill estate.

A PSNI spokesman said: "Police have arrested two men and recovered a firearm as a result of a thwarted armed robbery of a cash delivery being made at a store on the Shankill Road at 11.17am."

As police moved into the estate at 11.30am and sealed off the area a large group of residents gathered and shouted abuse.

Angry residents claimed the police had apprehended a 13-year-old boy.

A large number of uniformed officers then entered a house at the corner of Boundary Way to begin searches.

Locals shouted at them: "It is our street, we live here" as officers secured the area.

Residents also voiced anger about the size of the police operation in the small cul-de-sac. However, officers at the scene refused to make any comment.

Shortly after midday some of the police landrovers began to leave the area. However, they were chased by an angry mob who hurled bottles, debris and furniture at the reinforced vehicles.

One local woman, who would not give her name, said: "They have come into our estate and arrested an innocent boy, he is in the back of a Land Rover and they will not let him out.

"They have sealed off this whole area and we cannot get into our houses. There are women out here with children who are not being allowed into their homes.

"People are angry here because of the number of police who have come here - they say it is something to do with an armed robbery but we know nothing about that."

The angry crowd began to disperse shortly before 1pm after most of the police had left the area.

UUP councillor for the area Chris McGimpsey said: "The full story will come out in the fullness of time, but if an armed robbery has been foiled then police are to be commended."

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