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Violent clashes broke out between police and protesters in the central part of Dublin, Ireland, on Thursday after a knife attack in the capital city earlier in the day left three children and two adults injured.
The streets of Dublin were “mainly calm” shortly before midnight, Irish public broadcaster RTE reported, citing police. A major operation is underway to restore order in the city after the attack and protests.
The gardaí, as the Irish police are known, told CNN in a statement, “Further information and details of specific incidents we be provided at the conclusion of this operation.”
Video on social media earlier Thursday appears to show a group of men clashing violently with officers in Dublin and setting a police car on fire. A man can also be seen in the footage holding a sign reading, “Irish Lives Matter.” Some protesters can be heard on video chanting anti-immigrant slogans, including: “Get them out.”
Drew Harris, the commissioner of the gardaí, condemned the clashes as “disgraceful scenes” and blamed them on a “complete lunatic hooligan faction, driven by far-right ideology.” Harris has directed officers to make arrests in response to the violence.
“We ask people to act responsibly, not to listen to misinformation and rumor that is circulating on social media,” the chief said. “The facts are being established but the facts are still not clear, and a lot of the rumor and innuendo is being spread for malevolent purposes.”
People stand in front of riot police, near the scene of a suspected stabbing that left few children injured in Dublin, Ireland.Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
A man in his 50s was detained after police said he stabbed several people, including a 5-year-old girl who is receiving emergency treatment in the hospital with serious injuries. Police have not revealed the nationality of the suspect. The incident took place in Parnell Square, in the city’s center, according to the gardai.
A 6-year-old girl suffered less-serious injuries and remains in the hospital, while another 5-year-old boy has been discharged, a police official said. A woman in her 30s and a man in his 50s are both also in the hospital being treated for serious injuries, police said.
The Irish police said they aren’t considering terrorism as a motive for the “serious assault” in the city.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Gardai Superintendent Liam Geraghty reassured the public that there is “no terror-related activity” in the stabbings. He also confirmed a knife was used in the attack and applauded members of the public who intervened to stop the attacker.
“It would appear to be a standalone attack and we need to determine the reasons behind it,” Geraghty said, adding police are keeping an “open mind” during the early stages of the investigation.
Police are in contact with the children’s families, according to the gardaí. Police said they aren’t looking for any additional suspects but haven’t released further details about the nature of the incident.
European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “shocked” by the knife attack, according to a statement on X. Similarly, Ireland’s deputy prime minister said he was “deeply shocked by the serious incident in Dublin.”
In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the Irish police confirmed statements by the commissioner and quoted by the RTE that said he could not rule out terrorism as a possible motive behind the attack.
The RTE reports the violent clashes have disrupted public transportation by forcing buses to divert routes away from Parnell Square and one of the city’s main train stations was closed. As of Thursday evening, all city bus services were suspended, according to the city’s public bus operator. Renowned university Trinity College also closed all gates to its campus, RTE reported.
In a statement on X shortly after the incident, Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald said the violent attack “has sent shock and horror throughout the community.”
Video published by Reuters also shows a bus on fire and protesters squaring off with riot police, with some kicking the police shields.
Ireland’s Justice Minister Helen McEntee described the protesters as “thugs” and “criminals” who were “using this appalling attack to sow division and wreak havoc in the city.”
“Every force possible is being used by the gardaí to restore order to this city,” she told reporters.