Two men charged over stabbings at Belfast bonfire site

Two men have been charged with a range of offences linked to stabbings at the site of a controversial bonfire in Belfast.

An 18-year-old man remains in a critical condition in hospital after being stabbed in the New Lodge area on Thursday night.

The teenager was stabbed in the back while a 39-year-old man suffered stab wounds to his arm and hip. The older man’s injuries were not life-threatening.

A 21-year-old man has been charged with two counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and two counts of possession of an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.

A 28-year-old man has also been charged two counts of grievous bodily harm with intent, possession of an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

They are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning.

Crowds watch as the bonfire is lit
Crowds watch as the bonfire is lit (PA)

The incidents came as large crowds gathered to watch the New Lodge bonfire, which was set alight to mark the anniversary of the introduction of the controversial policy of internment without trial of suspected republicans in 1971.

Earlier on Thursday, police abandoned an operation to remove the structure before it was lit amid concerns that innocent bystanders could be hurt in disorder.

Trouble broke out in the area when armed officers attended the scene during the day.

Three police officers were injured amid violence police claim was probably orchestrated by dissident republicans.

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