Belfast Telegraph

Big increase in paramilitary-style shootings in N Ireland

The number of paramilitary-style shootings in Northern Ireland has doubled in the last year, police said.

Violent dissident republicans opposed to the peace process were responsible for 25 of the 28 attacks.

Earlier this year a mother and father were shot in Belfast while attempting to protect their son from gunmen.

The brutal attacks, in which victims are often taken down alleyways and badly injured in the legs, were a hallmark of the 30-year conflict and continue despite the peace.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) deputy chief constable Drew Harris said: "I acknowledge the increase in the number of victims as a result of paramilitary-style attacks and would reassure local communities that we are continuing to focus on these crimes.

"The PSNI is working hard to bring those responsible for these types of crimes before the courts however we also need the support from the public in providing us with the information we need to bring the perpetrators to justice."

There were five security-related deaths during 2016/17, the largest number per year since 2008, official statistics showed.

The PSNI added: "There were 28 casualties resulting from paramilitary-style shootings in 2016/17, double the number recorded in the previous year.

"Republicans were deemed responsible for 25 of these with loyalists responsible for the remaining three."

There were a total of 61 shooting incidents last year, up from 36 the previous year. The 29 bombings were 23 fewer than previously.

Recently four people were shot in staunchly republican west Belfast within a month.

Police said there was an intention by some to "exercise control".

The number of casualties resulting from paramilitary-style assaults in the financial year 2016/17 also showed an increase on the previous year from 58 to 66 and continues an upward trend evident since 2012/13.

Loyalists were deemed responsible for 56 of these casualties, with the remaining 10 attributed to republicans.

There were 137 people arrested using terrorism powers, 12 fewer than the previous year. The number subsequently charged rose by one to 19.

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