CIRA carry out punishment attacks

The Continuity IRA (CIRA) has claimed responsibility for three punishment shootings in the past week and warned further attacks would follow.

A member of CIRA, using a recognised codeword, claimed responsibility for attacks on two men in north Belfast over the last week.

The hardline republican group has shown a list to north Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy of 11 people ordered to leave the country by the group, describing its targets as “known drug dealers, burglars and rapists”.

The actions come amid political negotiations over policing in the Six Counties and Sinn Féin’s potential move to support the PSNI.

A spokesman for CIRA said: “We are reacting to demands from the nationalist people.

“The death threats to the people on the list that was showed to Fr Troy still stands.

“These people have been warned and they now know what the consequences will be if they do not either leave the country or come forward and present themselves for mediation to our organisation.

“We are not putting ourselves forward to police nationalist districts but if contacted by the people we will take action against known drug dealers, burglars and rapists.

“These people have been warned. We have made our position very clear. The onus is now on them.”

Republicans in Derry armed with rifles blocked off a street before another punishment attack, it has emerged.

In scenes reminiscent of the 1970s witnesses said up to four members of the gang closed off a Derry street outside the house where the attack took place, openly wielding rifles, including what appeared to be assault weapons.

Fr Troy said he has appealed to the CIRA to withdraw the threat before someone loses their life.

“These men called to my house last Sunday night and tried to pass this list to me,” he said.

“At the time I refused to accept the list. I’ve since regretted that decision because so many people have called to the house in a distressed state to ask if their son or brother is on it and I’m afraid I just can’t answer their questions.

“I recognised two of the names on the list and have since told their families and advised them to keep out of the way and be careful of their personal safety over the next few weeks.

“There can be no justification for violence on this level. The fear this has caused in the community is very, very real.”

Jim McCarthy, who works with a community restorative justice group, said the group had been trying to mediate between the dissident republicans thought to be issuing the threats and a number of families.

“I am aware that two young men have left the area as of today because of these threats,” he said yesterday.

“I would call on this group to immediately withdraw these threats and cease in their actions.

“This is a return to a past that we are all trying to get away from and has no place in our society.

“We had been trying to mediate and to warn families of this threat. I would strongly urge this group to call off this threat immediately.”

* The PSNI later raided a number of homes in north Belfast in an investigation it said was linked to the punishment shootings.

There was an angry exchange between the PSNI search team after personal details were taken from a mobile phone in the raid.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News