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BBC NI chief security correspondent Brian Rowan
"Security forces fear the feud could escalate"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
LVF denies murdering man
Murder scene
Police cordon off the murder scene
The break-away paramilitary group the Loyalist Volunteer Force has denied involvement in the murder of a man in north Belfast last week.

It comes amid fears of an escalating feud between the loyalist splinter group and the larger paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force in Northern Ireland.

Martin Taylor, 35, was shot dead in front of his wife in north Belfast on Friday morning.

He had done some election work for the Progressive Unionist Party, which is linked to the UVF.



The UVF are feuding with other loyalists
Police believed he could have been a victim of a feud between the UVF and rival loyalists. The LVF was blamed for the killing.

But in a statement to the BBC on Tuesday, the LVF said it had played no part in the murder.

Loyalist political representatives have clashed over which loyalist paramilitary group is involved in the feud, which has seen several attacks inside the past week.

At the weekend, another man narrowly escaped injury in a gun attack on his home in Ballygowan, County Down.

Several weapons, including an AK47 assault rifle, were fired in the attack which was blamed on the UVF.

But the other main loyalist group, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, has also been accused of involvement in attacks.

However, that has been denied by Johnny Adair, the group's former leader in the Shankill area of west Belfast, who was jailed for directing terrorism.

He said he had been given assurances from the leadership of the UFF that it was not involved.


Johnny Adair
Johnny Adair: Denies UFF involvement
"What's going on out there is nothing to do with the Ulster Freedom Fighters. So therefore it's none of the Ulster Freedom Fighters business," he said.

However, Billy Hutchinson of the PUP said he believed the LVF killed Mr Taylor.

John White of the Ulster Democratic Party, which has links with the UDA and UFF, has suggested that a mediator could be called in to try to end the feuding.

He said he was "deeply concerned" at "Protestants killing Protestants".

He suggested that the Presbyterian minister, the Reverend Roy Magee, who helped broker the loyalist ceasefire, could play a constructive role.

'Enough bloodshed'

Mr Magee said he would react positively if asked to intervene because he knew the "mindset of loyalist paramilitaries".

However, he urged the feuding factions to stop before the situation escalated.

"Stop where you are, take a step back and move in to seek a negotiated, peaceful settlement because it's important that no more lives are lost," he said.

"I think there has been enough bloodshed and enough agony and enough heartache and the people of Northern Ireland are saying we don't want any more killing."

In January, the LVF was blamed for the murder of prominent loyalist Richard Jameson, said to be the leader of the UVF in Portadown, County Armagh.


Bullet marks
Bullet marks on the intended victim's windows
These recent shootings are thought to be a continuation of the feud between the two rival paramilitary groups.

BBC NI chief security correspondent Brian Rowan said that over the weekend, police were "believed to have warned a number of loyalists about threats to their lives".

He said the security forces now feared the feud between the UVF and the LVF could escalate.

Meanwhile, the police have issued an appeal for anyone who saw the car used in the Ballygowan attack.

The Ford Mondeo used by the gunmen was hijacked in the Shankill area.

It was later found on fire at Comber Leisure Centre. Its registration number was I-A-Z 4-5-8-9.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on 02890650222.

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See also:

11 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Murder as loyalist feud boils over
11 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Police hunt loyalist's killer
26 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Feud link to murder
28 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
'End feud' loyalist politician appeals
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