POLITICAL leaders in Northern Ireland have united to condemn violence in Derry amid increased tensions in the city ahead of Orange parades today.

Shots were fired at police officers on Tuesday night in what was described by the PSNI as a “blatant bid to murder police”, while around sixteen petrol bombs and five paint bombs were thrown from the Bogside area.

A joint statement signed yesterday by Sinn Fein, the DUP, SDLP, UUP, Alliance and Green Party condemned “any illegal activity” and appealed for calm.

“Attacks on the police have been ongoing for a number of days alongside other violence including sectarian attacks on houses, petrol bombs thrown at the police, intimidation of contractors, vehicles hi-jacked and attacks on sheltered accommodation,” it said.

“The shots fired last night were a clear and obvious attempt to murder police officers. There must be a strong, clear and united voice against those who would engage in such disgraceful violence. As a society we must all stand with those who maintain law and order and who protect all sides of our community. We condemn any illegal activity and urge those who are damaging their own community and intimidating their neighbours to stop. We would urge people to work with the police to bring those involved in criminality to justice. We want to see a society where people can live together without the threat of intimidation or violence.”

Police were also attacked early yesterday in Belfast after a bonfire was set alight following a court ruling to drastically reduce its height to less than three metres tall. Around 100 officers in riot gear were called to Bloomfield Walkway in the east of the city as the Fire Service tried to protect nearby homes.