Eight police officers have been injured following a riot that took place in south Belfast last night.
Members of the PSNI attended the Sandy Row area at 8pm where a small protest escalated into an attack on police.
Rioters threw a number of objects at officers, including metal rods, fireworks and manhole covers.
Seven people were arrested at the scene.
A senior member of the force called for calm this morning after last night's incident.
Belfast District Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said PSNI officers had been in attendance at Sandy Row last night when "a small local protest quickly developed into an attack on police".
“Eight officers have so far been injured after being subjected to a sustained attack by rioters who have thrown a number of objects at police, including heavy masonry, metal rods, fireworks and manhole covers," he said.
"Their injuries include burns, head and leg injuries. Seven people have been arrested at the scene."
— Kevin Scott (@Kscott_94) April 2, 2021
Chief Superintendent Walls appealed to those involved "to stop this appalling behaviour".
"Police are trying to protect those living in the Shaftesbury Square, Donegall Road and Sandy Row areas and it is completely unacceptable that my officers are coming under sustained attack," he added.
“I would encourage anyone who has influence to use it now and stop the rioting before anyone else is injured, or worse.
“Local communities do not want to be dragged back to the past.
"They deserve to live in safe and peaceful areas, free from rioting, violence and wanton destruction of their communities.”
South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford condemned the riots.
"Given the actions of the Deputy First Minister some folks may believe that they can break the rules. That is not the case - two wrongs don't make a right," he said.
"Everyone must be equal under the law and equally subject to it, from the highest office holder in the land to every other citizen."
This is in no-one's best interests - not the officers dealing with it and not the mostly young people risking their futures by engaging in it.
It's incumbent on leaders to behave responsibly and dial down the inflammatory rhetoric over recent days.
Words have consequences. https://t.co/HueRap9JIg
— Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) April 2, 2021
Stormont Justice Minister and Alliance leader Naomi Long also called for calm.
She said last night: "This is in no-one's best interests - not the officers dealing with it and not the mostly young people risking their futures by engaging in it.
"It's incumbent on leaders to behave responsibly and dial down the inflammatory rhetoric over recent days.
"Words have consequences."