Attacks in Larne and Derry
Attacks in Larne and Derry

A number of sectarian attacks have made a mockery out of the so-called 'ceasefires' by unionist paramilitaries.

A Catholic family escaped injury when a pipe-bomb was thrown through a downstair's window of their house in Larne at around 12.30am yesterday.

The couple and their 16-year-old son were asleep when the device, which police said was primed, landed on the living room floor but failed to explode.

Neighbours were also evacuated during the security operation until the area was declared safe.

The attack came four days after a Catholic man was brutally beaten by a gang on the Old Glenarm Road in the town in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The victim sustained two broken cheek bones, a broken nose, serious lacerations to the face and requires reconstructive surgery in an attack that police have confirmed they are treating as sectarian.

Larne has lived under the shadow of sectarianism for a number of years with numerous pipe-bombings forcing dozens of Catholic families to flee their homes, but the town has seen a dramatic decrease in such incidents over the last 12 months.

However, the latest attacks have fuelled fresh fears of a return to the previous level of loyalist violence.

Of yesterday's pipe-bombing SDLP councillor Danny O'Connor said: ``It is a serious escalation of loyalist violence against the Catholic community. It makes a mockery out of the so-called loyalist ceasefires.

``Pipe bombs are designed to kill and have done so in the past. It is by the grace of God no-one was killed.

``This family are just devastated and they are deciding whether to stay. Their lives have been turned upside down.''

Meanwhile, a gang of youths responsible for a sectarian attack on a young Derry boy told him ``you look like a fenian, we are going to give you a battering'' moments before the assault.

The 13-year-old was treated at Altnagelvin Hospital for cuts and bruising.

Since news of the attack broke, the father of another boy who was assaulted in almost identical circumstances two weeks ago has come forward.

Sinn Féin's Lynn Fleming called for unionists to speak out, saying that all sectarian attacks were wrong.

``This young boy was attacked in front of his mother for being a Roman Catholic and no other reason,'' she said.

* The release of Andre Shoukri, a leading north Belfast loyalist, from Maghaberry jail may be behind an upsurge in loyalist activity.

Shoukri was arrested at the height of the last UDA feud, which resulted in associates of ousted Shankill leader Johnny Adair fleeing the country.

Just hours before Shoukri was due to be released, a nephew of Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair was targeted in a gun attack in north Belfast.

There has been speculation that the DUA feud could reignite following the incident.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News