LEADING loyalists John Bunting and John Howcroft appeared in court on Saturday charged with attempting to murder exUDA chiefs Andre Shoukri and John 'Bonzer' Boreland.
With a massive police presence filling the public gallery at Belfast Magistrates Court, 47-year-old Bunting, from Stonebridge Avenue in Conlig, Belfast men Howcroft (47) from Fornby Park and a third man, 31-year-old Darren George McAllister, from the Alliance Road, were charged with two counts of attempted murder and possessing a firearm with intent to commit murder.
A police detective constable gave evidence that he could connect all three to the charges.
It is alleged the trio were part of a gang that fired on the men in the Ballysillan area of the city last Wednesday night.
Boreland was hit in the thigh with a single shot when he got out of his car to investigate after it was hit by a brick.
Shoukri, who was in the car along with him, escaped injury in the gun attack. Neither turned up in court on Saturday for the hearing.
Tensions have been mounting between rival loyalist factions in north Belfast in recent weeks with a series of petrol bomb and gun attacks sparking fears of a renewed feud.
Recent tensions have been blamed on a power struggle between mainstream UDA and a expelled members in the Tigers Bay area.
No bail applications were made so the District Judge remanded all three into custody to appear by video-link on September 18.
* CHARGED: John Howcroft, left, who was one of three men appearing in court on Saturday charged with the attemped murder of Andre Shoukri, right, and John Boreland
* COURT: John Bunting who appeared at Belfast Magistrate's Court on Saturday on charges of attempted murder and possession of a firearm