Man gunned down in Belfast

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The Independent Online

A Protestant has been shot dead in front of his wife in a suspected paramilitary attack in Belfast.

A Protestant has been shot dead in front of his wife in a suspected paramilitary attack in Belfast.

Bertie Rice was shot in the chest at his bungalow in the York Road area of the city. He died in hospital.

He had worked in the office of Billy Hutchinson of the Progressive Unionist Party, the political wing of the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force.

Hutchinson claimed the rival Ulster Defense Association carried out the attack in retaliation for Saturday's killing of a 21-year-old man reputed to be a UDA member.

Hutchinson said: "There is a definite link. There is no question about that, and now the UVF in north Belfast are being drawn into something they didn't want. It only means the situation will get worse."

The UVF and the UDA have been attacking each other's Protestant supporters since August in a feud fueled by competition over criminal rackets and petty jealousies.

The feud previously has claimed three lives, left scores wounded and forced more than 150 families to flee their homes in the hard-line Protestant districts of west and north Belfast.

Like their militant Catholic enemies in the Irish Republican Army, the UDA and UVF are supposed to be observing cease-fires in support of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord

The two groups killed more than 900 people, mostly Catholic, before calling their 1994 truces.

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