Killings reignite feud between Belfast loyalists

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The Independent Online

Troops were ordered into north Belfast last night after the long-running loyalist feud between the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force claimed two more victims.

Troops were ordered into north Belfast last night after the long-running loyalist feud between the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force claimed two more victims.

The first to die was Bertie Rice, aged 63, who was shot in the chest in north Belfast yesterday morning and later died of his injuries. He was a member of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), the UVF's political wing. The attack was seen as retaliation for the shooting on Saturday night of David Greer, aged 21, a UDA member.

Yesterday evening, as troops were sent to north Belfast to keep the rival factions apart, gunmen assumed to be from the UVF went to the home of Tommy English, 39, a prominent UDA figure, and shot him dead in front of his wife.

He was hit as his wife tried to restrain a masked gang who burst into their home at Ballyfore Gardens in the Ballyduff area of Newtownabbey.

Mr English, a member of the UDA and its political wing, the Ulster Democratic Party, took part in talks as a UDP representative several years ago and at one stage met US President Bill Clinton. In November 1999 he was charged with aggravated burglary after an incident when several men broke into a Belfast city-centre bar.

Fourteen people have now died this year in incidents almost certainly linked to theTroubles. Three of these were the responsibility of republicans, with loyalists responsible for 11 - all of which resulted from feuds involving a number of groups, principally the UDA and UVF but also another organisation, the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Three of the loyalist killings took place in the Shankill Road district of west Belfast. The situation there had largely calmed down in recent weeks, but the killings of Mr Rice and Mr Greer indicate that the dispute has spread to north Belfast.

Mr Rice worked in the constituency office of Billy Hutchinson, a PUP member of the Belfast Assembly. Mr Hutchinson described the targeting of a 63-year-old man as "sick".

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