Paramilitary shooting victims were foreign nationals

Ppolice at the scene in Newry's Sandys Street where a man was shot. Picture by Mal McCann

TWO eastern Europeans have been victims of paramilitary-style shootings amid fears a foreign gang has adopted the tactics of Northern Ireland's terror groups.

The Lithuanian men were each shot once in the leg in different parts of Newry.

One was targeted in a house in Sandys Street, while the other was abducted in Warrenpoint, Co Down and driven around six miles before being shot at the city's Armagh Road.

Police last night said they believed there may be a link between the two shootings.

Two men, aged 28 and 26, were arrested in Dungannon yesterday on suspicion of kidnapping, attempted murder and possession of a firearm.

The first attack took place close to Newry city centre in an area where many foreign nationals live.

A man called to the house in Sandys Street at around midnight yesterday. Police said there was a verbal altercation and a 32-year-old in the property was shot in the leg.

Within the hour, another 32-year-old man was forced into a dark-coloured car after being taken from a house in the Ardfield Road area of Warrenpoint.

He was driven to the Armagh Road, Newry where he was shot in the leg.

Both victims were treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

It is highly unusual for a foreign national to be a victim of a paramilitary-style attack, which are normally associated with republican and loyalist communities.

PSNI Superintendent Simon Walls appealed for anyone who can assist the investigation to contact them.

Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady said: "There haven't been any incidents like this for quite a while, certainly in our community, and I think it brings back fear that people had."

SDLP councillor Gary Stokes said he was also very concerned.

"It is something we have known in the past and one that we don't to see return to our streets."

It is not the first time that foreign nationals have been victims of violence in Co Down.

In May 2002, two men from Lithuania were found stabbed and bludgeoned to death beside a country road near Warrenpoint.

They had been living in a house in Sandys Street in Newry.

Two Lithuanian men were later convicted of their murders.


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