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Four young children left 'terrified' after witnessing paramilitary-style shooting in west Belfast

A man was shot in a house in Cavendish Street, west Belfast on Saturday night. Picture by Ann McManus

A PARAMILITARY-style shooting witnessed by four young children in a west Belfast family home has been branded as "appalling".

Police said the children were left "terrified" after a gang burst into their home in the Cavendish Street area, and carried out the brutal attack.

Three men, dressed in dark clothing, forced their way in and struck a 28-year-old man over the head before shooting him in both knees and his right ankle with a handgun.

A woman in the house was also assaulted during the terrifying attack, which happened on Saturday night at around 7.45pm.

The man was taken to hospital for treatment to his injuries.

No-one appeared to be inside the property yesterday, which was still bedecked with a festive snowman decoration in the front window of the house.

Neighbours in the close-knit Cavendish Street community also did not want to comment on the shooting.

The attack comes just days after figures revealed that paramilitary shootings and assaults have reached an eight-year high with paramilitary style gun attacks alone up by more than a third in the past year.

There have been more than 90 shootings and assaults linked to paramilitaries during 2017.

There was strong condemnation last night following the latest paramilitary-style shooting with calls for an end to the "fear and violence" of such attacks.

West Belfast SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said there was shock in the community following the "brutal attack".

"It's bad enough that some self-appointed elements take the law into their own hands, but to break into a house of a young family, who knows what else could have happened," he said.

"This is a tight-knit community who will be appalled."

He added: "My immediate thoughts are with the victim and their family who must be greatly distressed at this time.

"As we celebrate the dawn of 2018 and the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement there can be no place for such brutal and violent attacks in our society.

"If we want to stop these people, we need to bring information forward to help the police take them off the streets. As a community we must stand together against violence."

Sinn Féin councillor Ciaran Beattie said: "I condemn these type of shootings outright - there's no place for these actions in our society at all.

"The people responsible need to end these actions immediately and cease what they're doing," he said.

"It's not wanted by the community - these attacks aren't acceptable at all."

A PSNI spokesman said it was a "brutal attack in a busy residential area" and showed how "criminal groups seek to control communities through fear and violence".

"The residents, including young children, have been left terrified by these events," he said.

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