The UVF is suspected to be behind the shooting of two men in a housing estate in Bangor.
One man was shot three times in the chest while a second man was shot in the leg at 1am yesterday.
The shooting took place in the generally quiet Whitehill estate in the Co Down town.
Sources have pointed towards the UVF being responsible, and it is understood that the victims, who are originally from east Belfast, had previously been ordered to leave the area.
The incident happened on the outskirts of the estate, at the junction of East Way and Whitehill Drive.
The man who was shot in the chest was last night in a stable condition in hospital, while the other man had discharged himself after treatment. Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.
A PSNI spokesman said all lines of inquiry were being pursued, and there would be an increased police presence in the area. The Whitehill estate encompasses almost 1,000 homes and dates back 60 years.
Whitehill Community Association issued a statement in which it said it "totally condemns the shooting" and urged anyone with information to come forward to the PSNI.
Janine McAlister-Cragg commented on the association's Facebook page, describing the incident as "absolutely disgusting".
Tracey Morrow from the group said local people were shocked that such a thing should happen in their area. "I live in the estate and I only heard about the shooting through the grapevine," she said.
"People are really shocked that this happened in such a quiet area, it's not something we are used to."
North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon said the attacks were "outrageous".
She sent out a strong message to those responsible that they were not wanted by the people of Bangor.
"When the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers visited Bangor 10 days ago, I was very pleased to report that we had been enjoying a relatively quiet time in terms of gun crime in North Down," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"Now, we have to cope with the shock of this outrageous gun attack on two men.
"Mercifully, neither man died. But it could have been altogether different.
"Whoever is responsible for this despicable gun attack, let me tell them loudly and clearly that we do not want them in our midst," Lady Hermon said.
"We don't want to see guns used on the streets in Whitehill, or anywhere else for that matter.
"Instead, what we want to see are the gun-toting gangsters successfully prosecuted and put behind bars, preferably for a very long time."
North Down independent councillor Alan Chambers slammed the shooting as a "very serious murder attempt".
"Nobody wants to go back to this," he added.
Northern Ireland Conservatives North Down representative David Symington also condemned the shootings and said the incident was both "worrying" and "frightening".
Punishment shootings are a type of street justice meted out by various paramilitary organisations.
Last September 24-year-old Jemma McGrath was shot five times by the UVF in east Belfast. Last November a 15-year-old boy in Coleraine was shot in both legs by loyalists.
Members of the so-called New IRA shot dead Kevin Kearney (46) in north Belfast last November after reportedly ordering him to leave the area.