Fears grow over escalation of violence in west Belfast after two men shot by armed gang
A gang of men armed with guns entered a club in west Belfast yesterday and blasted two men in the legs.
The attack took place at around 4pm at the Grosvenor Homing Pigeon Club bar in Iveagh Street off Broadway- just a few hundred yards from the Royal Victoria Hospital where the injured men were rushed for treatment.
Last night, as a police helicopter patrolled overhead and heavily armed officers sealed off surrounding streets, the condition of the men - believed to be from the west of the city and aged 19 and 27 - was described as "stable".
Local people expressed their shock at the shooting at a time of day when schoolchildren are making their way home.
Sources said they believed the shooting was a paramilitary-style attack. It is understood that a parked car belonging to one of the men was badly damaged by an explosive device in the nearby St James area earlier this year.
A woman who works in the club, who was on her way to the premises, said she was "shocked" by the attack. She added that, at that time of the day, there would usually only be a handful of people inside the club "especially at this time of the year as people try to save their money with Christmas approaching".
Police said the two men sustained gunshot injuries to their legs, and they issued an appeal for anyone with information to contact Musgrave on 101. A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said it had a crew on the scene within four minutes and the two men were brought to the Royal Victoria Hospital with "gunshot wounds to the lower legs".
Residents returning home from work expressed their shock at the incident. An employee of a nearby grocery shop said staff had not heard anything but did notice an ambulance arriving.
Local people and workers in the area found themselves caught up in the security operation. One passer-by, a member of staff at the Royal, said of the shooting: "This is shocking, I thought these things were in the past."
Politicians condemned the attack. SDLP MLA, Alex Attwood, said: "This is the third time in two weeks that guns have been used on the streets of west Belfast. Every attack is unjustified and the response to each and every attack must be unambiguous."