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Loyalists try to pin attack on republicans

Published 06/08/2014




DISSIDENT loyalists have attempted to blame republicans for a pipe-bomb attack in north Belfast in which the car of senior loyalist John Bunting was damaged.

A 27-year-old man was arrested in relation to the bomb attack outside the offices of Groundwork NI in Duncairn Gardens in north Belfast on Monday morning.

He was released pending further enquiries.

Police carried out follow-up searches in the nearby Mervue Street area of Tigers Bay yesterday.

The Irish News has learned that two community police officers, who were attending a non-emergency call at a nearby chemist shop, were among the first people on the scene following the attack and are now key witnesses.

The bombing has been blamed on a dissident faction of loyalists who have been involved in a power struggle with mainstream members of the UDA in the area.

However, as police moved in to search homes in the loyalist enclave yesterday, members of the dissident loyalist group using a North Belfast Ulster Political Re-search Group Twitter account attempted to deflect attention by blaming republicans for the attack.

The Twitter account claims to be NB UPRG 'under new management' and is believed to be used by members of the breakaway group.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, however, said it was clear that "anti-peace process loyalists" were responsible for the alert.

"Those responsible have absolutely nothing to offer society and need to call an immediate halt to these kind of actions", he said.

Republican Network for Unity (RNU) north Belfast representative Sammy Cusick said: "Republicans clearly played no part in the attack on John Bunting.

"If splintered loyalism cannot stand over their actions they shouldn't engage in them.

"RNU calls on nationalists and republicans to be vigilant in north Belfast if loyalism remains intent on deflecting blame for their actions".