Paramilitary-style shooting of three men 'pre-arranged'

Marie Louise McCrory

The paramilitary-style shootings of three young men in west Belfast are thought to have been pre-arranged.

It is believed the trio, aged 18, 24 and 25, had been told to be at a location in the Glenveagh Drive/Cresslough Park area of Lenadoon at a certain time on Thursday night to be shot.

They each received two gunshot wounds to their legs and were taken to hospital for treatment.

The shootings were last night claimed by republican paramilitary group Oglaigh na heireann.

It said it had acted following community requests.

Police said yesterday that the men's injuries are "not believed to be life threatening".

It is understood detectives are still investigating a motive for the shootings.

It comes a month after a 36-year-old man was shot in both legs and ankles in a paramilitary-style attack in the same area, at Creeslough Gardens.

Latest crime figures show that of the 25 paramilitary-style shootings recorded in Northern Ireland in the past year, 15 were in west Belfast.

It emerged last month that a 19-year-old shot "by appointment" by republican vigilantes in Derry last year had taken his own life.

Sean McFadden and a cousin were ordered to attend a pre-arranged location in the Bogside by Republican Action Against Drugs and were shot in the legs while his uncle was forced to stand nearby.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said he believed the latest shootings had been pre-arranged and appealed for anyone targeted in this way "not to go" and to "seek help" from police, community representatives, the clergy or Sinn Fein.

"It is well documented that the gangs responsible for these type of attacks are heavily involved in criminality themselves," he said.

"They offer the community nothing but misery and the people can see through their hypocrisy of claiming to be helping the community.

"These gangs will not stop this community from moving forward and the sooner they get the message that they are not wanted, the better."

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood described the shootings as "a very serious incident".

"Nobody has given these thugs the right to be judge, jury and enforcer in our communities," he said.

"We have a fully accountable policing service. Let the PSNI to their job and allow due process and justice to prevail."


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