Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Murder sparks new INLA fears

Bitter terror feud claims sixth victim

THERE was speculation today that slain former INLA commander Hugh Torney

THERE was speculation today that slain former INLA commander Hugh Torney and another man seriously injured in a gun attack in Lurgan were betrayed.

The men were shot in Victoria Street after leaving a house where Torney had been hiding.

The slaying of the ousted paramilitary commander brought fresh fears of renewed INLA violence.

Members of the main INLA faction were reassessing their direction after the man they accuse of murdering several of their associates met his death.

Torney _ the INLA chief of staff until last year _ was riddled with bullets from an automatic rifle in a 'drive by' shooting around 9.40pm.

He pulled a gun and fired a shot at his killers, but died in a pool of blood at the scene.

Today the INLA's Belfast Brigade _ the organisation's biggest grouping _ had emerged apparently victorious after the nine-month feud that claimed six lives.

But there were fears the INLA might mount an offensive against the security forces as a way of rallying its members.

One source said: 'They will need to put this behind them, and uniting in the face of a common enemy would be one way of doing it.'Father-of-three Torney was the last veteran member of his GHQ faction left alive or not in prison.

Another source predicted the latest INLA feud was 'effectively over'.

He said: 'Many of Torney's men have defected, and there's no experienced gunmen left to take over.'Torney (41), from west Belfast, had been on the run from police in the Republic after jumping bail on arms charges.

The shooting war between the two sides erupted after Torney and three other men announced from a courtroom dock near Dublin, where they faced the arms charges, that the INLA had declared a ceasefire.

Then leader Gino Gallagher was murdered in west Belfast in January, prompting the latest feud within the organisation.

The second victim of the INLA feud was Ardoyne man John Fennell (40), an associate of Torney's, found battered to death at a Bundoran caravan park on March 5.

Ten days later innocent schoolgirl Barbara McAlorum (9) died in a hail of bullets after Gallagher's supporters raked her north Belfast home with gunfire.

The fourth victim of the feud was Lurgan man Dessie McCleery (38), Torney's No 2, who was shot dead in a Belfast pizza restaurant in May.

Fra Shannon, shot in west Belfast on June 9, was the fifth victim.

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