Loyalist pair tell how they were shot at by gang, but claim they won’t be drawn into UDA feud.
The north Belfast loyalists who survived a UDA murder bid have told how they cheated death in an attack linked to a turf war between feuding factions.
Former UDA prisoner John ‘Bonzer’ Boreland was shot in the thigh on Wednesday night at Carr’s Glen in Ballysillan during the ongoing UDA feud between rival groups in the area.
Last night he told Sunday Life that a second gunman had also tried to shoot him and fellow loyalist Andre Shoukri and claimed that he knows the identity of both the gunman and the terror boss who ordered it.
He said: “I got hit in the thigh with a bullet but if the guy with the nine mil [9 millimetre calibre] had known how to get a bullet into the breech, me and Andre might have been killed.
“I know who shot me and who gave the orders, so do the police, so let's see if they end up serving time for it.
The 44-year-old, who has served a prison sentence for extortion, says the shooting happened after a chance encounter with up to 10 UDA members.
Boreland and his pal Shoukri, the former north Belfast UDA brigadier, say they have no desire to become embroiled in an escalating internal UDA feud but admit that they deliberately confronted supporters of a rival faction after Boreland's car was hit with an object, which could have been a plastic bottle.
Andre Shoukri, who served four-and-a-half years in jail for blackmail and extortion alongside Boreland, explained that they had been in the Ballysillan area in Boreland's jeep because he had been told a member of his family was going to be attacked by the mainstream UDA.
“We went out to stop an attack on my family in Westland and on the way back John's car overheated at Joanmount. We went to his mum's house to get water and look at the hoses and then he was dropping me off because I'm not allowed to drive.
“We were in Carr’s Glen Park when we saw this group and then something hit John's car as we slowed down to turn right. I said to him, and I'm being honest, ‘do you want to do something about that or let it go’ and we decided to stop the car and confront them,” Shoukri said.
Boreland added: “We walked around the corner and as we were approaching them we heard ‘get the gear, get the gear' or something like that.
“One of them had a gun and he went down on one knee and fired two shots and one hit me in the thigh.
“They got a second gun from a bin but the guy with it didn't know how to use it and couldn't get a bullet in the breech and couldn't fire it.”
Shoukri, 37, admitted that he was ready to use his fists to protect his family and friends but said he wanted no part of the UDA feud in north Belfast.
“I won't deny it: if someone is planning to hurt my family I will use my fists to deal with them, but I do not want anything to do with what is going on in north Belfast — I am not getting involved”, he said.
John Boreland identified the two UDA men with the guns to Sunday Life and said that the PSNI knows their names, but is critical of the police follow-up operation.
“I felt the bullet go into my thigh but it was a small bullet like a pellet and I only knew I had been shot when I saw the blood come through my jeans.
“I think they were planning to do something with the guns and we turned up unexpectedly.
“There's no way they knew me and Andre would have been there because we ended up there totally by chance because my car began to leak water and I went to my mother's home to get water.
“It was totally by chance that they saw us and threw the bottle or whatever they had at my car.
“Us coming round the corner caused a bit of panic and they produced the guns before we were just up to them.
“But they were getting ready to do something it's just that we interrupted their plans by chance.
“The PSNI could have gone and got the guns from the street but instead stayed with me, took all my clothes searched my car and allowed the gunmen to hide the guns.”
Like Andre Shoukri, he claimed he wants nothing to do with the current UDA infighting in north Belfast.
“We handed over all the guns we had four years ago and didn't get a penny.
“We have no guns to bring out and don't want to take over north Belfast or be involved in this.
“I suspect they were going to shoot up a house when we drove by and they clocked the car and threw something at it.
“I will take them on in a man-to-man thing, but we want nothing to do with this feud. How can a man be a UDA brigadier with only ten men?” he said.
Andre Shoukri echoed John Boreland’s denial of involvement in a UDA power struggle in north Belfast.
“We could have taken over north Belfast four years ago when we came out of prison. We didn't because we don't want to be involved in this mess.
“The reason this is so important within the UDA struggle is because the North Belfast Brigade is the ‘swing vote’.
“It's an important area for Jackie [McDonald] because if he loses it to the Shankill then he's in the minority of two brigades and the Shankill has more clout if it controls the area.
“We want nothing to do with this, we haven't been talking to people in the Shankill UDA and we're not going to get involved in it. I don't want the job back,” the top loyalist added.