Belfast Telegraph

Boy (15) one of youngest victims of loyalist gun vigilantes

BY JOANNE SWEENEY

Loyalists targeted a teenage boy in a paramilitary-style attack when he was on a brief visit home to see his mother.

Matthew Campbell (15) had been living in Belfast in recent weeks but was shot in both legs by a masked gang while spending the night in his mother's Coleraine home.

The boy had to undergo emergency surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after suffering horrific injuries in the shooting.

He was reported to be in a "stable" condition last night.

The teenager's ordeal began in the early hours of yesterday morning when he was sleeping in his mother's home in the Glebe Avenue area of the Co Londonderry town.

Three masked and armed men entered the home at around 5am and shot the victim twice.

He was then battered around the head while he screamed for help. The three men were each wearing dark clothing and one was wielding a baseball bat. Matthew lived in the predominantly loyalist area of Harpers Hill until last summer.

However, he later moved to Belfast.

While loyalist paramilitaries were being blamed for the vicious attack, no group has claimed responsibility so far.

The teenager is one of the youngest people in Northern Ireland to have suffered such a severe attack.

Under a year ago, a 15-year-old was shot in the legs in the Whitecliffe area of Belfast, and in August, 2008, another 15-year-old male was shot in the Woodside area of Dunmurry.

However, DUP councillor George Duddy cautioned against any speculation on which loyalist group was responsible.

Fellow DUP man Maurice Bradley described the attack as "unwarranted and unwanted".

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