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BBC NI's Annita McVeigh reports
"About 50 men arrived in mini-buses and began attacking houses"
 real 28k

Sunday, 13 August, 2000, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
UDA blamed for attack on homes
Loyalist paramilitaries are blamed for the latest attacks
Loyalist paramilitaries are blamed for the latest attacks
The loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association has been blamed for attacks on homes at an interface area between Catholics and Protestants in north Belfast.

Police say they will be stepping up their profile in the area after a gang of up to 50 men attacked homes in the Limestone Road area of the city on Sunday morning.

The attacks came after paramilitary splinter group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force, backed a threat by the rival Ulster Freedom Fighters to shoot anyone attacking Protestant homes.

The latest attacks, which damaged about 20 houses, happened about 0730 BST on Sunday.

Residents in the nationalist Clanchattan Street say the crowd arrived in mini-buses and began attacking homes and cars with paint-bombs, baseball bats and bricks.

Some of the gang wore balaclavas, others were unmasked and residents say several of them were carrying guns.

One woman said: "They were out to show the guns. One was waving it in the air. You can't go out to defend your house."

The attacks are intent to stir up sectarian hatred within the interface areas

Gerard Brophy
The attacks lasted about 15 minutes before the gang fled in the direction of the loyalist Tigers Bay.

RUC superintendent Roger Maxwell said it was the latest in a number of attacks across Belfast on both sides of the community in recent days and was a "worrying trend."

"This morning's attack was certainly premeditated and orchestrated I want to reassure people that we will be making every effort to bring the culprits to justice.

"We will be raising the police profile in the area and working with community contacts to prevent a recurrence."

Nationalists 'must not retaliate'

Clanchattan Street was left littered with broken glass and paint from paint bombs following the incidents.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Gerard Brophy said the UDA was behind what he described as "extremely well orchestrated" attacks.

He urged young nationalists not to fall into the "trap of retaliation."

"They (the attacks) are intent to stir up sectarian hatred within the interface areas," he said.

Homes and cars at other streets in the area were also attacked.

The UDP's John White: Threat in response to attacks on homes
John White: Called for attacks to stop

John White of the Ulster Democratic Party, which has links with the UDA and UFF, said he viewed attacks on loyalist and nationalist homes with "grave concern".

But he said loyalists had been reacting to attacks on loyalist homes which were "orchestrated by Sinn Fein/IRA".

"I am calling on both sides to call to a stop these attacks for I am convinced that they will precipitate a return to violence with disastrous consequences for all the people of Northern Ireland," he said.

"The number of co-ordinated attacks on Protestant homes in the last number of weeks by republicans is evidence that they have sparked off this unfortunate state of affairs.

"Sinn Fein/IRA can bring all this to an end by stopping these attacks."

A spokeswoman for the Corrymeela community, which has been working to improve relations between the communities in the area, said the attack would slow down that process.

On Saturday, the LVF issued a statement saying it was backing a reinstated threat by the UFF to "reserve the right to shoot any person seen to be attacking Protestant homes in north and west Belfast".

In a telephone call to a Belfast newsroom, a spokesman for the LVF said it would take similar action to the UFF "if necessary".

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See also:

10 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Stoning 'sectarian' say residents
11 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Police attacked in Belfast
11 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
'UFF death threat reinstated'
12 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
LVF backs shooting threat
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