Police find huge paramilitary gun cache

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The Independent Online

More than 70 loyalist paramilitary weapons and thousands of bullets have been found by police in north Belfast, it was revealed today.

The huge arms cache, linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), was uncovered as officers searched the house of a man who is believed to have taken his own life.

More guns were also found in other searches of lock-up premises in the greater Belfast area.

Police said today that all the guns had been taken away to be examined by forensics experts.

Police have not disclosed the exact location of where the guns were found, but it is understood the house where the man died suddenly last weekend is in or near the Ballysillan area.

It is one of the biggest arms dumps ever found in Belfast and ballistic tests will be carried out on every weapon to determine if they have been used, and if yes, how many shootings they have been used in.

The name of the dead man has not been disclosed, but it is understood he was well known in loyalist paramilitary circles. Police are not treating his death as suspicious, but an inquest is likely to be held later.

A statement by police in the city today said: "A substantial amount of guns and ammunition were discovered as part of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of a man in the north of the city at the weekend.

"During a follow up search of the man's house, more than 70 suspected guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were discovered. All have been removed for forensic examination.

"A further small number of suspected firearms were also found in lock-up premises in the greater Belfast area."

In May last year, the UVF effectively declared an end to its campaign of violence by announcing the organisation was adopting a non-military and civilian role.

Recruitment, military training and targeting had ceased, intelligence rendered obsolete and all guns "put beyond reach".