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Thursday, November 27, 1997 Published at 23:41 GMT


Former loyalist negotiator shot
image: [ Call-A-Cab: Scene of the shooting ]
Call-A-Cab: Scene of the shooting

A former loyalist negotiator has been shot in the head and critically injured in Northern Ireland.

Jackie Mahood was singled out and shot at close range three times in the upstairs offices of his Belfast taxi firm, Call-A-Cab, by two gunmen.

Mr Mahood was a negotiator for the Progressive Unionist Party, which represents the views of the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force, at the first round of peace talks at Stormont.

[ image: Jackie Mahood, (right) with the PUP's David Ervine]
Jackie Mahood, (right) with the PUP's David Ervine
Mr Mahood left the PUP last year and after the shooting a party spokesman indicated he did not think the attack was political.

Billy Hutchinson said: "I don't believe that it was a feud between two loyalist organisations in the sense that it was the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force.

"I don't have any evidence to support that but I would ask loyalists to remain calm and wait for the next 24 to 48 hours until we have the evidence."

The Royal Ulster Constabulary is understood to be following a definite line of inquiry and has taken away a security video from the cab firm's offices.

[ image: RUC Assistant Chief Constable Bill Stewart]
RUC Assistant Chief Constable Bill Stewart
Police quickly sealed off the area and began questioning the injured man's workmates and people in the vicinity.

RUC Assistant Chief Constable Bill Stewart said: "It's a senseless action and we unreservedly condemn it."

Violence stops bus services

Meanwhile, bus drivers cancelled services on the Crumlin Road and Shankill Road for the second night running following loyalist violence which left a Citybus driver seriously ill with burns after he was engulfed in flames when his vehicle was petrol bombed on Tuesday night.

The drivers took their decision despite a meeting between bus company bosses, unions and loyalist politicians who assured them of their safety.

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