Shooting of woman at Lord Street Mews in east Belfast is blamed on UVF
A grandmother has spoken of her terror after a young woman was shot repeatedly in a punishment-style attack on her street.
The victim, a care worker, was in her east Belfast home on Wednesday night when an armed and masked gang entered at around 10.40pm.
She was shot in the lower abdomen, hips and knees. Last night she was described as being in a stable condition in hospital.
It is understood the gunmen fled the house at Lord Street Mews, close to the Beersbridge Road, via an alleyway from Lord Street which leads on to Trillick Street.
Police removed a car from the scene yesterday.
Many residents were too scared to speak out, though one neighbour told the Belfast Telegraph that they were shocked by the shooting – but even more by the fact that a young woman was the victim.
She said the 24-year-old lived alone and "kept herself to herself".
The gunshots woke up the resident's one-year-old grandchild.
"I heard a noise which I thought was fireworks. It woke up the baby, then I heard the ambulance. I could see people in the street but I didn't go out," she said.
"We're all particularly shocked that it was a young woman, you never really hear about that."
Another neighbour told Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan show that she heard the shots and then screaming.
"She was shouting: 'Help me, help me'," she said.
"It's really scary, just scared the life out of me. Everybody is just really shocked."
The PSNI is treating the incident as attempted murder.
"The investigation into the incident is in its early stages and several lines of inquiry are being investigated," a spokesman said.
Former Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson blamed the UVF for the attack, slamming them as "merchants of death".
East Belfast MP Naomi Long condemned the shooting as "utterly appalling and barbaric" and urged anyone with information to give it to the police.
DUP MLA Robin Newton said there can be "no justification for this dreadful act", warning that society "needs to move away from such barbaric behaviour".
"This type of action drags the community back to the bad old days when there is a great desire across society to move on to better days," he said.
"The PSNI needs support from the people of east Belfast to help stamp out such actions."
Punishment shootings were a frequent horror during the Troubles. Both republican and loyalist paramilitaries carry out the vicious attacks, but it is very unusual for a woman to be the target, with just two other known incidents involving women since the early 1990s. Last year, Republican Action Against Drugs group in Londonderry was targeting people for punishment shootings.