Campaign of political killings feared

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SECURITY FORCES in Northern Ireland believe that a loyalist assassination campaign against mainstream nationalist politicians is imminent, writes David McKittrick.

Loyalist attacks on Tuesday night included the murder of a Catholic man in south Londonderry and incendiary attacks on the homes of two Social Democratic and Labour Party councillors in Belfast. The killing was the work of the Ulster Volunteer Force, while the Ulster Defence Association admitted that it was responsible for the firebombings.

The attacks on the politicians were condemned by nationalist and Unionist sources. Some loyalist representatives are known to be concerned that such attacks on the SDLP could lead to retaliation against Protestant figures.

The man who died at his home at Ballyronan was Eugene Martin, 29. He was well-known locally as a wildfowler and conservationist, who carried on a small business as a taxidermist.

A UVF claim that he was a member of the IRA has been denied, not only by his family and Catholic church sources, but also by RUC sources, who said he had no paramilitary connections.

He was the ninth person to die violently in Northern Ireland this year - the sixth at the hands of loyalists. The republic's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring, said yesterday that he was very worried by the upsurge in violence and raised the issue when he met Sir Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for the Northern Ireland.