Barbaric Belfast shootings - appeal for communities to 'break the silence'
Men suffer 'potentially life-changing injuries'
Communities in Northern Ireland are being urged to "break the silence" over paramilitary attacks and help end the violence.
The call follows two "terrifying" paramilitary-style shootings in Belfast on Sunday night.
A 41-year-old man was shot five times in his arms and legs when a gang entered his home at Ballymurphy in the west of the city.
In north Belfast, a 26-year-old man was shot three times in his legs at his home in Upper Meadow Street, New Lodge.
Police said both victims have sustained "potentially life-changing injuries" and were taken to hospital.
A PSNI spokesman described both incidents as "terrifying" paramilitary-style attacks in the victims' own homes.
"It is another example of a criminal group trying to control a community by the use of weapons, fear and violence," the spokesman added.
SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon MLA said to help stop the savage attacks people with information must share it with police.
"These savage attacks are carried out by cowardly gangs seeking to coerce and control our communities through fear and violence.
"To stand up to it we must all break the silence that allows these people to get away with it.
"These brutal attacks were unjustifiable in the past. They are unjustified now. To help stop these attacks people must come forward with information to the police," Mrs Mallon said.
In the first attack, it’s thought three masked men forced their way into a 41-year-old’s home in Divismore Park in the Ballymurphy area at around 7.30pm.
The victim was alone at the time and shot five times in his arms and legs.
Witness said they thought one of the attackers spoke with a southern accent.
There was shock in the area, as the shooting took place not far from where children had been playing.
Around an hour later a 26-year-old was shot three times in the legs in his home in Upper Meadow Street in the New Lodge area in the north of the city.
Unfortunately for local residents we were low and noisy over Belfast this eve. Helping @PSNIBelfastW and @PSNIBelfastN deal with 2 separate shooting incidents #KeepingPeopleSafe pic.twitter.com/RLw55Hkr0x— PSNI Air Support (@PSNIAirSupport) January 28, 2018
Let’s name these criminal groups and stop giving them the umbrella of paramilitaries. They are vile individuals who are busy lining their pockets through drugs, intimidation or protection rackets - all at the expense of the communities they live in. https://t.co/7rvUhvcpaG— Doug Beattie (@BeattieDoug) January 28, 2018
SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said there had already been a few similar attacks in west Belfast this month.
“That cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.
“To be shot five times is particularly brutal. Police are saying he may suffer life-changing injuries and clearly being shot five times is significant. We can only hope he makes a full recovery.”
The shootings came just days after dissident republican group Oglaigh na hEireann called a ceasefire.
Police and politicians had also called on the group to end its so-called ‘punishment’ attacks.
“Whoever is responsible, there needs to be a clear message that this is not acceptable anywhere in Belfast or across the north,” said Mr Attwood. “These attacks need to end immediately.”
Meanwhile, in north Belfast one resident said the first they knew of the shooting was when the emergency services swarmed into the area.
“This is normally a quiet street,” said one home owner, “We have two kids in the house and I’m just glad they never heard it because they would have been scared to go outside.
Sinn Fein north Belfast Councillor JJ Magee said: “These brutal attacks have a damaging impact on our entire city and must stop immediately.”
The Workers Party’s Gemma Weir described the attacks as “barbaric”.
Detective Sergeant Davidson added: “This is another example of a criminal group trying to control a community by the use of weapons, fear and violence.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital