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West Belfast shooting of teenager carried out by 'predators in community'

Police have condemned the shooting of the 16 year old as child abuse

Police have condemned the shooting of a teenager on Forest Street near the Springfield Road area of west Belfast.

The 16-year-old was shot in leg at around 8.45pm on Thursday. Belfast Trust said he is in a stable condition at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said the brutal attack was nothing more than child abuse.

"If you look at the definition of child abuse in terms of physical abuse, it can't get more serious than shooting a child," he said.

"There's no justification for it, there's no attempt to legitimise it. These people are predators within their communities. They're skulking around in the shadows, they come out for three minutes, shoot someone and run away again."

"I've heard some people say that they're claiming to be a police service in a local area. Well for me a police service is accountable, to the law and politicians and community."

"It's visible, it should be in uniform, it should be dealing with things that matter to communities and it shouldn't be running away from anything.

"They're most definitely not a police service and they're most definitely not dispensing justice, it's brutality, it's medieval practice."

The SDLP's Alex Attwood called the attack an "act of tyranny."

"It confirms the insidious efforts of the few to terrorise the many," he said.

"The attack gives added reason for people to help the PSNI and added reason for the PSNI to escalate their interventions.

"Last night it was a 16-year-old. No one, no street, no area is safe from the self appointed few.

"This week confirms why the police and the public must face down those who brutalise, who shoot and who are tiny in number but big in the level of threat."

On Wednesday a man was shot in the legs in the Falls Road area.

The DUP's Nelson McCausland said the PSNI must receive 'unequivocal support' in tackling republican gun crime in nationalist communities.

He said: "This issue will undoubtedly feature in the report of the Chief Constable to the next meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.’

"In the meantime it is incumbent on nationalist politicians who hold some degree of sway in those communities to speak out forthrightly against the perpetrators of such unjustified and inexcusable attacks. 

"This is especially true of Sinn Fein as the largest nationalist party in most of these areas."

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