The PSNI has poured scorn over a leaflet distributed around an area of west Belfast which claims the "Republican Movement" received hundreds of complaints and severe community pressure before it carried out a recent spate of punishment shootings.
The communication, seen by the Belfast Telegraph, is signed off by the "Republican Movement Belfast" and claims some of those targeted in recent weeks in punishment-style attacks had been involved in anti-social behaviour.
It goes on to say "these actions were carried out as a last resort following literally hundreds of complaints to our movement, and severe community pressure on republicans to act".
It added: "It is the opinion of the Republican Movement that the wide range of criminal activities plaguing working-class communities can only be effectively and comprehensively challenged by empowering and organising residents of those areas. However, despite numerous warnings to those engaged in these activities in Turf Lodge, we were left with no option other than to take direct action and shooting a number of individuals."
The leaflet finished off with a threat that punishment-style attacks will continue.
"There is no longer any hiding place for those who engage in serious criminal activity within areas, and republicans will continue to play an active direct role in defending communities from the enemy within," the leaflets reads.
A number of people have been subjected to punishment shootings within the last month, and most of these within the Turf Lodge area. The number of punishment-style attacks has doubled in the last year in west Belfast, despite decreasing across the city as a whole. PSNI commander for west Belfast, Chief Inspector Norman Haslett said in response to the leaflet: "There is only one police service in west Belfast and that is the PSNI.
"Unlike others who in recent weeks have resorted to child abuse, shooting people and acting as self-appointed judges, juries and executioners, we prefer to work in partnership with the community to resolve issues of concern while at the same time, upholding the human rights of everyone."
He said over the last year there has been a significant reduction in a number of crimes including anti-social behaviour, burglary, death driving and crimes against the elderly.