Sectarian murder bid

A Catholic youth survived a sectarian gun attack in Coleraine when the weapon jammed last night.

The gunman - his face covered by a scarf -- approached a group of youths in the Somerset Drive area of the town last night, pointed a handgun at one of the youths and pulled the trigger.

The gun seemed to have either jammed or misfired. The gunman then aimed the gun at a number of the other youths before running off.

Sinn Féin local councillor Billy Leonard said he had no doubt that the incident was the work of unionist paramilitaries.

He said: “Some of the people ran immediately but one of the group froze just momentarily and as the gunman took aim at this person the gun jammed.

“It is likely we were this close to injury or indeed death.

“We are taking this as a very serious incident, one which is more than a scare tactic and local people would be very confident it was the work of loyalist paramilitaries.”


Hardline republicans are being blamed for a spate of fire-bomb attacks that caused millions of pounds worth of damage to shops in Belfast this week.

The Homebase DIY store on the Boucher Road was completely destroyed in the worst of the attacks.

A nearby Smyth’s toy shop was also targeted but firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control. In a third attack, a city centre JJB sports store was gutted in Ann Street.

At its height, 70 firefighters were tackling the Homebase blaze to stop it spreading to other stores.

The Real IRA has been linked to the latest attacks. Both the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA are currently engaged in a campaign against what they consider to be economic targets.

Sinn Féin assembly member Alex Maskey also condemned the attacks, which he said “do not represent the feelings of the majority of republican constituents”.

He urged so-called dissidents to “carefully consider your options”.

“These groups have no support within this community and they do not have a strategy to deliver Irish unity and independence,” he said.

The SDLP’s Carmel Hanna said the perpetrators were “warped” and “fascists”.

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