Police in Northern Ireland have arrested a 38-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder after reports of shots fired at officers during fresh protests in Belfast.
The unrest followed a largely peaceful demonstration by more than 1000 people against Belfast city council's December 3 decision to limit the days it flies the British flag each year, which has sparked weeks of street violence.
Thirteen people were charged with public order offences on Saturday, one of them in relation to that day's rioting, and the other 12 from disorder on Friday night, during which nine police officers were injured.
'Police have come under sustained attack from crowds of more than 100 people using fireworks, bricks and other masonry,' a statement said Saturday afternoon, adding: 'Water cannon has been deployed.'
'Police are also investigating reports that a number of shots have been fired at police lines on the Newtownards road (in traditionally pro-British east Belfast). A 38-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder,' it said.
It was the third consecutive day of unrest after up to 300 people hurled petrol bombs, fireworks, ball bearings and masonry at police on Friday night, and about 100 people rioted on Thursday night.
Conall McDevitt, a member of the Northern Ireland assembly for the republican SDLP, said the apparent use of guns in Saturday's unrest undermined the demonstrators' claim to be involved in legitimate protests.
'Whatever grievance some people may have had, it is totally lost when they allow people to use these protests as cover for attempted murder,' he said.
'There is only one response possible, and that's a firm policing response against everyone involved in illegal protests and anyone seeking to organise or encourage illegal or violent demonstrations,' he added.
The December flag vote has raised tensions in the province, which endured three decades of sectarian violence until 1998 peace accords led to a power-sharing government between Protestants and Catholics.