Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 11:20 UK

Man dead following city shooting

Scene of shooting in Creggan
Police cordoned off the scene of the shooting in Creggan

A man in his early 20s has died following a shooting in Londonderry.

It happened at about 0045 BST on Tuesday in the Bligh's Lane area of the Creggan.

It is understood the man was being pursued by a group of men across a grassy area near St Mary's Chapel and the city cemetery when he was shot.

The victim was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital but he died from his injuries. Chief Inspector Chris Yates said it was a "cold blooded shooting".

A community worker Sean McMonagle, who assisted him into the ambulance, said the man had confronted a group of men earlier in the evening.

Father Stephen McLaughlin, who raised concern about the police response, said: "It would have been 0330 BST or later than that actually before they (the police) began to cordon off the location.

"Certainly, local people mentioned to me that they were somewhat bewildered that police didn't appear until that point."

Chief Inspector Yates said the police were at the scene "as soon as was practical".

He said: "Within ten minutes of the call coming in it was confirmed the victim was en route to hospital and there was no risk to him from us not attending the scene."

The shooting happened in the Bligh's Lane area of the city
The shooting happened in the Bligh's Lane area of the city

He said that "the initial call was that the marksmen were lying in wait in the area".

"So under those circumstances, and with the recent terrorist incident in Fermanagh in which two police officers were nearly killed, we're not going to go rushing blindly into an area until we're satisfied that it's safe to do so."

SDLP assembly member Pat Ramsey said it was "anyone's worst nightmare for someone to come to your door and tell you your son's been shot dead".

"The family don't know of any circumstances, at all, why their son was taken out and shot in such a way. In fact, the father did say that this bullet was meant for someone else.

"The people responsible have absolutely no mandate for carrying out this awful shooting."

Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson said: "This was a criminal act and anyone who attempts to attach any kind of political justification to it is deluding themselves and our community."

The first and deputy first ministers also condemned the shooting, and sent their sympathies to the victim's family.

First Minister Peter Robinson described the murder as "a despicable and cowardly act".

"There will be no turning back to the dark days of the past, we will not allow our achievements to be destroyed by violence that has no place in our society," he said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said those responsible have "nothing to offer society".

"They do not represent anyone in Derry or in the wider community," he said.



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