Fears mount after police uncover RAAD weapons
Concerns have been raised about the capability of self-styled vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs after the seizure of a cache of guns including five assault rifles.
Eight guns in total were recovered when a number of properties in Londonderry were searched last week as part of a major investigation into the republican terror group which has been linked to so-called punishment shootings and the death of one man.
The weapons — five assault rifles and three handguns — were seized during police raids on July 12 in what PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said was an operation aimed at tackling punishment shootings in Derry.
Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) was formed in 2008 by a group of former IRA members and since then has shot and wounded an estimated 40 youths and men whom they accused of drug dealing.
Alongside the punishment shootings, the group shot dead one man, father-of-two Andy Allen (24), at his home in Buncrana, Co Donegal.
Mr Allen’s family has emphatically rejected claims that he was involved in drug dealing.
The organisation has also warned dozens of young men to leave the city or face being shot, and in June the armed group took a worrying new direction when it said that it was behind a bomb attack on the PSNI.
The SDLP said that the uncovering of assault rifles among the weapons seized was a “fairly significant” and “worrying” development for RAAD, whose activities have caused extreme concern among the community in recent months.
Assembly member Mark H Durkan said: “It’s the first time we have seen a seizure of this size certainly, and it is worrying that weapons like this seem to be available.” East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell called for the PSNI to do more to combat the threat of RAAD.
“The police need to step up their searches, which hopefully will lead to more weapons being found and more lives being saved as a result,” he said.
Mr Baggott described the arms seizures as “significant” after the PSNI said that its officers came under attack during the operation from youths throwing stones and petrol bombs at several locations.
Meanwhile, three men arrested as part of the major operation were released over the weekend.
A 43-year-old man was released on Saturday evening pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.
Earlier in the day, a 47-year-old man had been unconditionally released by the police and a third man who was being questioned was also released on Friday evening.