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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 11:14 GMT
Loyalists blamed for gun attack
Shots were fired through front window of house
Shots were fired through front window of house
Loyalist paramilitaries have been blamed for firing shots into a house near a sectarian flashpoint in north Belfast.

A number of people escaped injury in the attack on the home at Parkend Street, in the Limestone Road area

Gunmen fired shots at close range through the living room window at about 0645 GMT on Thursday.

It is understood a group of people tried to force their way into the house shortly before the shots were fired.

Up to five shots were believed to have been fired, with one bullet lodging in the wall of a downstairs front room.

Gerry Kelly
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly blamed UDA

The woman, whose home was attacked, said her children could have been killed had they been in the house.

Donna McDaid said it was "a miracle" no-one had been hurt in the attack.

Her two young daughters were staying with their father and were not in the house in Parkend Street.

She said: "It's a miracle because the bullets are just above their toys where they were playing.

"And if the kids had been here playing about they would have been killed."

'Lucky to be alive'

Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland Assembly member for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has blamed the loyalist Ulster Defence Association for the attack.

"This is the UDA's Christmas present to the people of north Belfast," he said.

"This young woman is very lucky to be alive and we are fortunate not to have a death on our hands.

"It follows a pattern of attacks which I am blaming on the UDA.

Shots fired into room were toys were kept

"We have also had incidents in the days before Christmas Eve, on Christmas Eve itself and on Christmas Day."

There were sporadic clashes between rival loyalist and nationalist gangs in the Limestone Road area last weekend.

It follows a pattern of sectarian clashes in recent months.

Hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been injured during the disturbances.

One person, Glen Branagh, a member of the youth wing of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association, has been killed during the trouble. A pipe bomb exploded in his hand in November.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly
It is the UDA again - it is their Christmas present to the people
See also:

22 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
North Belfast 'needs higher security'
12 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Teenager dies in Belfast riots
10 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Moves to defuse riot tension
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