Loyalists kill man in error

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A CATHOLIC man was shot dead in west Belfast last night apparently in mistake for a prominent Sinn Fein councillor. Security sources said that up to 60 shots were fired in the incident at a house in Andersonstown, writes David McKittrick.

The target of what is assumed to be a loyalist assassination gang was Alex Maskey, leader of the Sinn Fein group on Belfast City Council and a well-known party spokesman.

The Ulster Freedom Fighters admitted the killing. Mr Maskey was in the house with his wife and two children at the time.

This was the third shooting incident at his home. Several years ago he was shot in the stomach and seriously wounded in another assassination attempt by loyalists.

The dead man, who was involved in plastering work in the house at the time, was a father of five from Ardoyne. Two gunmen were reported to have leapt from a car and opened fire with rifles. The workman ran inside, but was shot several times in the living room.

One gunman went upstairs where Mr Maskey was but he failed to spot him and the gunmen escaped in a waiting car.