Loyalist Bobby Moffett shot dead on Belfast's Shankill Road
A man was shot dead on Belfast's Shankill Road today. Bobby Moffett was gunned down at point blank range in the staunchly loyalist area shortly before 1pm.
Moffett, 44, is understood to have been a member of the Red Hand Commando (RHC) terrorist group.
The busy road was packed with lunchtime shoppers when the attack took place. Stunned eyewitnesses said masked gunmen shot him in the face.
The Shankill was the scene of much bloodshed during the troubles and since the ceasefires has witnessed a number of killings linked to internal feuds among loyalist paramilitary groups.
Police have not yet disclosed a motive for today's shooting.
The shooting took place yards from a loyalist mural in the middle of the road that runs from the city centre into north west Belfast.
Bandages and a spot of blood on the road marked where the victim fell and where paramedics tried to save his life.
A double-decker bus was parked inside the police cordon, while people looked on from nearby bookmakers and bars.
Workers at a jobs and benefits centre were unable to leave their offices as security forces continued their examination of the busy roadway where the shooting took place.
Ulster Unionist Party member Bill Manwaring arrived at the scene and tried to offer first aid to the victim.
He said the dead man had suffered severe injuries to his face and hand, and added: "By the time I had arrived, it had already happened. Some colleagues were helping put him in the recovery position.
"The injuries were horrific and young children were on the street when this happened."
He added: "We had 40 years of this area suffering from this kind of activity and there is no reason for this. It is unacceptable."
A local resident who witnessed the shooting said: "I thought it was a car backfiring. I heard about four shots and saw the gunmen standing in the middle of the road wearing balaclavas and orange tops.
"I saw the bloke lying there. I think he was shot in the head or the face."
He said the gang ran off through nearby Conway Street and escaped the scene, which was by then packed with members of the public.
"The area was very busy," he said.
"People came running out from the shops, the place was black with people."
Assembly member for west Belfast Alex Attwood said bystanders were in deep shock.
"It is a terrible deed, a terrible thing has happened today that a person has been murdered," said the SDLP representative.
"It has happened on the Shankill Road in broad daylight in front of local people. The people will be traumatised and we have to express our sympathy and urge people to keep calm and not rush to judgment."
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds condemned the murder.
The DUP representative said: "Everyone will have been shocked and horrified by this incident where someone has been murdered in broad daylight.
"No-one has the right to take the life of another human being and we all want to ensure that Northern Ireland continues to move away from times when reports such as this were all too common.
"The police are working to establish the full facts surrounding what has happened and to bring those responsible to justice.
"I would hope that anyone who was in the area and who might have seen anything which could be of help to the police will pass that information on."