Thugs hijack bus before setting it ablaze near Belfast

Thugs hijack bus by forcing driver and passengers off before setting it ablaze in County Antrim – the fourth ‘pathetic firebomb attack on public transport in protest over Northern Ireland Protocol’ this year

  • Four masked men boarded the double decker in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, at about 7.45pm before the blaze
  • The vehicle was on a loyalist estate on the outskirts of the capital of Northern Ireland Belfast in latest violence
  • The charred remnants were still smouldering later on Sunday night as policemen in armoured vehicles arrived
  • Last Monday bus was burned in a loyalist area of Newtownards, Co Down, in a protest against the NI Protocol

Thugs last night hijacked a bus by forcing the driver and his passengers off before setting it ablaze in the latest violence to rip through Northern Ireland.

Four masked men boarded the double decker in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, at about 7.45pm and ordered the driver and passengers off.

The vehicle was then set alight on a loyalist estate on the outskirts of the capital Belfast. The charred remnants were still smouldering later on Sunday night as police in armoured vehicles monitored the scene.

Last Monday a bus was hijacked and burned in a loyalist area of Newtownards, Co Down, in an apparent protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol. It is not clear who was behind the latest attack.

Four masked men boarded the double decker in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, at about 7.45pm and ordered the driver and passengers off

The vehicle was then set alight on a loyalist estate on the outskirts of the capital Belfast. The charred remnants were still smouldering later on Sunday night as police in armoured vehicles monitored the scene

Disorder also broke out at a community interface in west Belfast twice last week as violence continues to rip across the country.

The fighting involving youths from the nationalist Springfield Road and loyalist Shankill Road saw police being attacked with missiles and fireworks on Wednesday and Friday night. Wednesday’s disorder followed a protest against the protocol.

Condemning Sunday’s hijacking, Stormont Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said the driver and passengers were safe after a ‘terrifying experience’.

She said: ‘It is disgraceful and disgusting that our public transport workers have been targeted for attack again, this time by masked men who ordered the driver and passengers off a bus this evening and then set fire to it.

‘This is the fourth attack this year. Translink buses are public assets. Without them people can’t get to and from work, or school, or hospital appointments.

‘Our bus drivers are working class people who deserve to be safe in their jobs. People using public transport also deserve to feel safe and be able to go about their business without fear.

‘The criminals behind these reckless and cowardly attacks have done nothing more than harm their local community, depriving them of a critical public service.

‘It is another extreme act of self harm consistently rejected by the people of Northern Ireland.’

Disorder also broke out at a community interface in west Belfast twice last week as violence continues to rip across the country. Pictured: The bus in Newtownabbey

Condemning Sunday’s hijacking, Stormont Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said the driver and passengers were safe after a ‘terrifying experience’

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson branded the attack ‘senseless’. He tweeted: ‘Such criminal behaviour could lead to death or serious injury.

‘This only harms local people and local communities. It serves no cause whatsoever. The ringleaders should step back. Change is brought about by politics not by burning buses.’

UUP leader Doug Beattie tweeted: ‘This is utterly pathetic and it needs to stop. Those responsible do not represent the overwhelming majority who just want a peaceful society.’

Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said: ‘The hijacking and burning of a bus and threats to a driver in Rathcoole is dangerous, reckless and despicable.’

He said: ‘There is absolutely no place in our society for this criminality and violence. We need to see clear condemnation from unionist leaders tonight of this violence and further attempts to stir up tensions.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson branded the attack ‘senseless’. He tweeted: ‘Such criminal behaviour could lead to death or serious injury’

UUP leader Doug Beattie tweeted: ‘This is utterly pathetic and it needs to stop. Those responsible do not represent the overwhelming majority who just want a peaceful society’

A PSNI spokesman said: ‘Police received a report of a hijacking incident in the Church Road area of Newtownabbey at around 7.45pm on Sunday evening’

‘Words and actions are very important, and I would urge unionist leaders to end the provocative language and dishonesty around the protocol.

‘People want calm and responsible leadership to reduce tensions and ensure there is no further escalation of violence on our streets.’

A PSNI spokesman said: ‘Police received a report of a hijacking incident in the Church Road area of Newtownabbey at around 7.45pm on Sunday evening.

‘It was reported that four men got onto the bus and ordered passengers off before the bus was then set alight.

‘Church Road is currently closed and diversions are in place and police would ask members of the public to avoid the area.’

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