Bomb attacks rock east Belfast as feud rumbles on

The latest unionist paramilitary feud that has already claimed one life has now sparked three bomb attacks since Saturday.

No one was seriously injured in the attacks although an elderly man was treated in hospital for shock. A man who was the intended target of the first of the bombings said it he and his 16-year-old son could have been killed.

The bombings and last Tuesday’s murder of Brian Stewart, who was buried today, have been blamed on the UVF in their increasingly serious feud against the breakaway LVF.

There is a history of feuding between the two groups. It dates back to 1996 when the UVF stood down the paramilitary leader Billy Wright and his closest associates. Out of this split, the LVF emerged.

The first bomb exploded in the early hours of Saturday morning in the Beersbridge Road area of east Belfast. The large blast was not caused by a pipe bomb and was described as a “substantial device” by British bomb experts.

The targeted house and a house adjoining were damaged in the blast. Windows in the two houses were shattered and the two front doors were left hanging off their hinges. A 70-year-old neighbour of the intended victim suffered shock.

The second device, a blast bomb, exploded relatively close by on Sunday morning, shattering windows in a number of houses. Another device, which failed to explode, was made safe by British army bomb disposal experts.

The third, as yet unknown, device detonated this afternoon at a terraced house on the London Road, also in east Belfast. A pipe bomb was also reported to have been found nearby.

Both sides had braced themselves for further violence following today’s funeral of Mr Stewart.

Meanwhile, unionist paramilitaries in Derry are suspected of carrying out a petrol bomb attack on a home near an interface area. A group of youths threw the petrol bomb at a house in Horace Street shortly after midnight on Friday.

No-one was injured in the attack and the house suffered scorch damage.

It is believed the bombers fled in the direction of the nearby loyalist Fountain estate.

Sinn Féin councillor Peter Anderson said there had been previous petrol bombings and that the Fountain estate had also suffered attacks.

“This is not an isolated incident, there have been problems in the past,” he said.

“In the past I have condemned anyone who has thrown petrol bombs into the Fountain, so I also condemn people from the Fountain throwing petrol bombs.

“Throwing petrol bombs is nothing short of attempted murder.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News