Attacks increase ahead of Derry parade
Attacks increase ahead of Derry parade

Unionist paramilitaries have targeted the homes of Catholics in Antrim town with pipe bombs as sectarian tensions once again ratchet up in the Six Counties.

Three such devices have been planted in 48 hours in the area ahead of the controversial Apprentice Boys parade in Derry on Saturday.

One device, which partly exploded, was left at an address in the Beechfield. Just hours earlier, another device was planted in the Birch Hill areas of the town, while another was left on a windowsill nearby.

A Belfast newsroom received a claim of responsibility for the devices from a group in the name of ‘the Real UFF [Ulster Freedom Fighters]’.

Sinn Fein Councillor Annemarie Logue said the attacks were sectarian. “A grouping calling itself the Real UFF has claimed responsibility and these people seem to be motivated by pure sectarian hatred,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, an Orange hall was damaged by fire in a possible anti-Protestant attack.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he believed the attack was sectarian and claimed those responsible were trying to inflame communities in advance of Saturday’s Apprentice Boys marches across the North.

The arsonists were motivated “solely by sectarian bigotry” and were no different to those who carry out attacks on GAA halls and churches, he said.

On Tuesday, a booby-trap device was reported to have partially exploded under the car of a PSNI station guard in Cookstown, County Tyrone as he drove through to work. It was the third such attack by republican dissidents in the past week.

The 26-County Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin said the targeting of Catholic PSNI officers by dissident republican bombers is “disgusting, sectarian and against republican values”.

He called for calm in ahead of tomorrow’s giant loyalist parade in Derry, which will follow a highly controversial ‘feeder’ parade through republican areas of north Belfast.

The possibility that large-scale riots could spread from Belfast to Derry is believed to have alarmed the Stormont establishment and triggered high-level talks to ease tensions.

The PSNI’s response to a planned sit-down protest by Ardoyne residents against the morning parade in Ardoyne is expected be a key factor in determining whether the heavy rioting seen last month is repeated.

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