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Punishment shootings on the rise, warns expert as latest attack is branded 'barbaric'

By Cate McCurry

Published 07/06/2016

Sandra Overend
Sandra Overend

The shooting of a man in both legs in Co Tyrone has been slammed as "brazen" and "barbaric" by a leading Belfast academic and author.

Liam Kennedy, a professor of history at Queen’s University, spoke out after the victim of the attack in Cookstown was taken to hospital.

The man was shot on Sunday at around 5.40pm after two masked men — one of them armed with a handgun — forced their way into a house on the Drumcree estate.

They threatened the three people inside the property before opening fire on a 35-year-old. A woman and a man, both in their 30s, were left unharmed. The victim is understood be in a stable condition.

Professor Kennedy, who carried out a report into the number of children beaten or shot by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, branded the attack “disturbing”.

The academic, a founding member of the Children Of The Troubles group, which was established a year ago, said the type of violence witnessed in Cookstown was on the rise.

“It’s disturbing that the geographical area over which punishment attacks are taking place seems be to widening,” he added. “It is appalling that these practices, rather than going into decline, seem to be spreading.

“We have to face up to the fact that there is still minority support in some working-class communities for these kind of barbaric attacks.

“The abnormal became normal, so some people still think it’s acceptable.”

While eyewitness accounts suggested there was a party in the house at the time of the attack, the police later said there were only three people inside.

Local UUP MLA Sandra Overend condemned the shooting. “Such a horrific incident has no place in our society and should be condemned by any right-thinking individual,” she said.

“There will be shock in the local community, especially since this happened in broad daylight late on a Sunday afternoon.”

The shooting is the latest in a string of punishment-style attacks in a week.

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