LOYALISTS ESCALATE CAMPAIGN IN NORTH BELFAST
Loyalists have carried out a series of sectarian attacks
against Catholic homes in North Belfast over the past two
In the first attack on Wednesday night three windows were
smashed at a house off the Crumlin Road shortly after 9.30pm.
Fireworks were thrown through the broken windows, causing
extensive damage to a living room and a bathroom.
Almost a mile away, two windows were smashed at a house on
Kingsmere Avenue and two paint bombs were thrown inside,
causing extensive damaging to the living room.
In a third attack shortly after 11pm, a 56-year-old woman was
treated for shock after she was showered with glass and paint
as she sat watching television at her home in Mountainview
The grandmother-of-four, who did not want to be named, said
she initially thought she was covered in blood when her
living-room window was smashed.
"The first I knew anything was happening was when the window
came in around me," she said.
"My daughter thought that I was covered in blood but it turned
out to be red paint. It was a terrifying experience."
Two houses in the adjoining Mountainview Gardens, belonging to
a father and daughter, were targeted in the same attack.
"The first I knew anything was happening was when I heard a
huge thud against the window," the man, who was too afraid to
be named, said.
"It was only the double glazing which saved us. If it had been
petrol bombs none of us would be alive this morning.
"My two-year-old grandson was in hysterics. How do you explain
to a child that people are attacking your home just because
you are Catholic?"
The windows of several cars were smashed by the attackers, and
paint was thrown over the vehicles.
At the same time on Wednesday night, there was also an attack
on the home the Antrim chairman of Sinn Fein, Paddy Murray, in
the Rathenraw estate.
And shortly after 8.30am on Thursday morning, a group of
Catholic schoolboys from St Gabriel's secondary school on the
Crumlin Road were attacked by a man with an iron bar.
One of the schoolboys was grabbed by the attacker but managed
The attacker then made off in the direction of the loyalist
The attacks came less than 24 hours after loyalists alleged
republicans had carried out attacks on Protestant homes on
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said that while he condemned all
sectarian attacks, he remained unconvinced that republicans
had been responsible for the attacks on Protestant homes
earlier this week.
"I am against attacks on anyone's house, regardless of their
religion," he said.
"But what I will say is that it is questionable that the
attacks on these Protestant homes didn't take place on an
interface, but were deep within loyalist areas.
"I am concerned that this may be similar to attacks on
Protestant houses three years ago, which were initially blamed
on republicans, but were later proved to have been carried out
by the UDA.
"It would appear that elements of the UDA may be using this
same tactic again to justify attacks on the homes of innocent
The violence came as Sinn Fein released a dosssier documenting
160 separate attacks including shootings, bombings and
assaults ocer the past three months.
At a Belfast press conference on Wednesday, Sinn Fein chief
negotiator Martin McGuinness said this was only the tip of the
iceberg and he urged all political parties to speak out with
one voice against the ongoing sectarian campaign.
He explained that the document will be forwarded to the
British and Irish governments.
Mr McGuinness said: "In the past three months, despite
relative calm at some interface areas, loyalist violence has
persisted with more than 160 separate attacks, including
numerous gun attacks, 54 bomb attacks and 43 serious assaults
"Also in the past number of weeks this campaign has spread to
a number of schools, with devices being left at school gates."
Sinn Fein said if has been aware that over the past year of
intensive contacts between unionist political leaders, with
UUP authority and the leaders of the various paramilitary
groups have been ongoing.
"Unionist politicians should explain the insight this has
given them into what is going on within these armed groups and
tell us when this sustained campaign will end.
Sinn Fein's Mr McGuinness said that there were "elements
within the UDA" who were involved in attacks, with the support
of people within British military intelligence, who were
trying to de-stabilise the situation.
Last night, the UPRG, which represents the UDA politically,
claimed that the group was committed to peace.
But Sinn Fein Representative for North Belfast Gerry Kelly
said the UDA had orchestrated most of the over 160 sectarian
attacks carried out by loyalists in the past three month
"despite the fact that we were assured by the UPRG that the
UDA was on cessation.
"What people want to hear from the UPRG is that the attacks
will end and what they want form the UDA is a halt to their
campaign of sectarian attacks.
"Given the record of both groups people, in nationalists areas
simply do not believe what the UPRG is saying. The intentions
of the UDA will not be judged on the basis of statements from
the UPRG, but on the actions of loyalists on the ground."
* In other incidents, a prison officer's home was attacked
with a petrol bomb in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, last night.
The bomb caused damage to the officer's car, which was parked
in the driveway of his home.
And a family of four escaped injury overnight after shots were
fired through the window of their home in Bangor, County Down.
A man, a woman and two teenage boys were sleeping upstairs
when the attack on their home in the West Moreland area of the
Earlier, a phone box in the town was destroyed by an
explosion. An explosive device, placed on top of the phone
box, detonated shortly after midnight. Both incidents have
been blamed on loyalists.