Belfast Telegraph

Horror as Rathcoole woman is blasted in both legs trying to flee gunmen

By Nevin Farrell

Shocked residents have told of their horror after a woman was blasted in the legs as she frantically tried to escape from masked gunmen in Newtownabbey.

The 47-year-old was targeted in the mainly loyalist Rathcoole estate and was rushed to hospital.

It is extremely rare for women to be shot in paramilitary attacks.

Sunday's shooting, which happened at around 7.45pm, saw two masked men - one believed to have been armed with a handgun - force their way into a downstairs flat at Ballyronan Park.

Two males, who were present at the scene, tried to escape along with the injured woman. However, the woman was shot as she ran from the assailants.

She was wounded in both of her legs. One of the men, aged 40, also received minor injuries on his legs and chin after being assaulted at the scene.

The woman was taken to hospital for treatment for her injuries which are not life threatening, said police yesterday.

A neighbour said he thought such shootings were meant to be a thing of the past. He said the woman lives close to Glas-na-Bradan glen - a wooded area in Rathcoole which was a notorious spot used by paramilitaries for their attacks during the Troubles.

Residents said they were shocked that a woman could be the victim of gunmen and told how she was "very tiny" in stature and was believed to be recovering from a recent hip operation.

One man said the woman had lived in the area for about a year and that he only knew her first name, "but she kept herself to herself".

He added: "As regards being a neighbour there was no bother with the woman - no noise or no parties. I have seen her a few times up around the Credit Union in the estate.

"I think she may have had daughters but they did not live there. I wouldn't wish this sort of attack on anybody."

Glas-na-Bradan Glen, just yards from the woman's home, which had several broken windows yesterday, was once a regular haunt of paramilitaries dishing out their so-called 'punishment' attacks.

A resident said: "I thought we had finished with all this. Thirty odd years ago we got our doors rapped all the time, asking us to phone an ambulance because there must have been about 30 shootings and beatings in the glen."

The resident added: "Sometimes you would hear the gunshots. There were so many attacks in there at one time, I thought about phoning the Guinness Book of Records."

Regarding Sunday's shooting, the man said he was out, but his granddaughter was in and she said police came to the door to say they were investigating "some sort of paramilitary-style shooting."

Detective Inspector David Skelly issued an appeal for anyone with information to contact detectives at Newtownabbey on non-emergency number 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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