Belfast Telegraph

Paramilitaries slammed after Belfast man (24) shot in legs and ankles

By Staff Reporter

The punishment-style shooting of a young man in Belfast has been condemned as barbaric by a human rights group that campaigns against paramilitaries.

The 24-year-old was shot a total of five times in both knees and both ankles in a back yard after "a number of males in dark clothing" broke into the Whiterock Drive house and hit him with a hammer on Friday evening.

He has been left with serious and potentially life-changing injuries, the PSNI said.

Dr Irene Boada of Children of the Troubles said: "This young man was shot five times in the legs in another example of barbaric 'justice' by self-appointed guardians of the public.

"If the vigilantes are so sure of themselves, why can't they take off the masks and come out and face the public and explain themselves? Why are they so cowardly, slinking off into the shadows? Why do they oblige the victim to remain silent? Is it because they know, deep down, that what they are doing is only self-serving and indefensible?"

In 2016/17 police recorded a total of 28 paramilitary-style shootings - 25 carried out by republicans.

Author John Lindsay, also of Children of the Troubles, said: "On the positive side, it is good that these attacks are being brought into the light by the media.

"However, it is sometimes added in reports on victims that the injuries are not life-threatening. This tends to deflect attention from the seriousness of the injuries, both physical and psychological. The truth is that these so-called punishment beatings and shootings are often life-changing."

Two females, a 17-year-old and a 21-year-old, who were in the property at the time and who witnessed the horrific attack, were left extremely shaken, police added.

"This was a brutal and callous attack in a residential area where other residents or passers- by could have been injured," Detective Inspector Michael McDonnell said.

"It is yet another example of how criminal groups seek to control communities through fear and violence."

Anyone with information is asked to call Musgrave Criminal Investigation Branch on 101, quoting reference 1189 of January 19, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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