Police are appealing for information following reports of public disorder in the Linn road and Antiville Road areas of Larne around 10.45pm last night.
Superintendent Darrin Jones said: “Police responded to reports that a number of wheelie bins had been set on fire and were being used as a burning barricade to block the Linn Road. NIFRS attended and extinguished the fire.
“A large crowd of between 30 to 40 people, with their faces covered, had gathered close to the community centre and for a time, hurled bricks, bottles and fireworks at police patrols in the area. A petrol bomb that was thrown failed to ignite.
“Police also had to intervene during this violence and extinguish a fire that was started in an area of gorse and threatened to spread to a nearby wooded area.
“At one point, a police landrover positioned itself to be the focus of incoming missiles - in order to protect other vehicles belonging to members of the public which were unable to turn and leave the area.
“During the course of the evening, at least four vehicles were driven at speed around the area. Police restored order and the area was quiet by 12.45am.
“Police later recovered three claw hammers in the area as well as quantity of bricks that had been stockpiled and used as missiles.
“This was a reckless and totally unacceptable night of violence that posed serious danger to members of the public, police officers – and indeed those who were taking part in it.
“I would urge the community in Larne to reject these people who last night caused such fear and distress to local residents, as well as wrecking and terrorising the area they live in. And I would also call on people of influence in the area to intervene.
“I need to stress that while officers are dealing with this kind of criminal behaviour they are unable to provide other vital policing services to the community in order to keep them safe.
“I want to reassure the people of Larne that we are taking what happened last night very seriously and are committed to bringing those responsible before the courts.
“We are pursuing a number of lines of enquiry - including that there was paramilitary involvement in last night’s incidents. I would urge anyone with any information to contact us on the non-emergency number 101.”
“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”