Belfast Telegraph

Anger after man (22) abducted and badly beaten by gang in Strabane

By Leona O'Neill

A 22-year-old man was abducted in Strabane on Wednesday night and hooded, bound and beaten by a gang in a vicious attack.

The man, who lives at Carlton Drive in the town, was walking near his home at 11pm when he was pulled into a large grey Transit van.

He was driven to an area outside the Co Tyrone town and beaten viciously by a number of men for nearly an hour.

The victim was driven back to Strabane and dumped on Bradley Way shortly before midnight. He suffered a suspected broken arm and a wound to his head.

Police said that paramilitary involvement was one line of enquiry for them, while locals said that a personal vendetta may also have been a motive.

PSNI Detective Sergeant Brian Reid said: "While the injuries are not life-threatening, this was a horrifying attack that will have had a major impact on the victim and his loved ones.

"I am appealing for community help in identifying the perpetrators of this crime. There can be no justification for criminal groups carrying out such brutal attacks, attempting to control communities through fear and violence."

Independent councillor Paul Gallagher said that regardless of if the attack was a personal vendetta or the work of an armed group, there were alternatives to beating young people.

"There is a project in Strabane called Access Youth Engagement (AYE)," he said.

"It has and does engage with young people, particularly those who have come into trouble through anti-social behaviour with the community or judiciary.

"It implements a restorative practice process, which is victim-centred, that gets young people to take responsibility for their actions. And it has intervened when young people have come under the focus of paramilitary groups.

"I am not sure if this incident is the actions of an armed group or is a personal vendetta, but whatever it is I am saying that there is an alternative.

"If the wider community has issues with young people, if any groups out there has issues with young people then use the offices of AYE. It is better than finding young people laying in the street."

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan condemned the incident.

"Strabane has witnessed a spate of attacks on individuals and families in recent months, which is completely unacceptable," he said. "The message must be put out there, and it must be clear, that these attacks have no place in our society."

The attack is the second violent incident in the town in less than a week.

On Sunday night 65-year-old Mary Peoples had a pipe bomb thrown through her bedroom window. It landed on her bed.

The device, which failed to explode, was taken out of the house by the pensioner's son Ryan who threw it into a green area, before moving it himself 24 hours later and alerting the PSNI.

The young man had been warned by police that his life was under threat by republicans.

And the incident comes just four days after a 33-year-old man was 'shot by appointment' in a brutal punishment attack in Londonderry's Bogside, which was also blamed on dissident republicans.

The man, who told residents who came to his aid that he was from Dungiven, was ordered to come to an alleyway at Lisfannon Park on Tuesday night, where he was shot in the legs and stomach by four masked gunmen.

Yesterday a group of people gathered in Derry's Peace Garden near the Guildhall to demand and end to so-called punishment attacks.

Speaking at the rally, former MLA Eamonn McCann said that those carrying out the brutal attacks "were anything but guardians of the community".

"We need to stop the demonisation of our young people," he said.

"They are not rats, they are not vermin, and how dare anybody speak about them like that.

"We have to stop the use of vicious physical violence at the drop of a hat in this society against people who have challenged the authority or simply upset people who regard themselves as guardians of the community.

"They are anything but. There is a lot of work to be done."

Police have appealed for information on Wednesday's abduction in Strabane.

They said: "Detectives investigating the incident can be contacted on 101 quoting reference number 1532 10/08/17.

"If someone would prefer to provide information without leaving their name, they can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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