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3 Belfast cops hurt as Protestant protests persist

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January 8, 2013 04:07 AM EST | AP

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Northern Ireland police say three officers have been injured in a fifth straight night of street clashes with Protestant extremists opposed to Belfast City Council's decision to reduce its flying of the British flag.

Monday night's violence in Protestant east Belfast broke out soon after the monthly meeting of the Belfast council. Police said they arrested eight suspected rioters.

Inside the council chamber, Catholic politicians who narrowly outnumber Protestants on the council defended their Dec. 3 decision to fly the Union Jack atop city hall only on 18 specific days, not year-round. Scores of Protestant street blockades have followed.

On Monday night about 300 Protestants, many of them draped in British flags, stood peacefully outside city hall. The street clashes started after most walked back into east Belfast.