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Blair, Adams Meet to Discuss Belfast Violence

British Prime Minister Tony Blair met in London Monday with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to discuss the growing sectarian violence in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

The Blair-Adams meeting was arranged after a surge of street fighting in Belfast between Protestants and Catholics that has left several people wounded in recent weeks.

Police commanders say the Irish Republican Army has organized violence by Catholic militants, while two pro-British paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defense Association and Ulster Volunteer Force, have orchestrated Protestant rioters.

Gerry Adams leads the Sinn Fein party, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, which has fought to merge British-ruled Northern Ireland with the republic of Ireland.

Mr. Adams spoke with reporters following his meeting with Mr. Blair. He denies there is evidence of IRA involvement in the latest violence, but he says republicans still must do their part to end to the fighting. "I have been saying it doesn't matter how this deplorable situation started, it has to stop," he said.

In response to the mounting violence, the British army has begun increasing the height of what are called "peace lines" between Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in east Belfast, scene of some of the fiercest rioting.

Authorities say army engineers are going to double the height of the walls to eight meters in hopes of blocking gasoline bombs and other homemade missiles.

some of the latest violence Sunday, gunmen in south Belfast fired on police who responded with rubber bullets. Several vehicles were set afire. One policeman suffered facial burns from a gasoline bomb.

The police chief is warning that it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.