The Ulster Volunteer Force claimed that the man, who they named but who has not been formally identified by police, was shot dead because he passed information about loyalists to republican terrorists. Security forces discovered the body in Ballyhill Lane, between Belfast and Crumlin, Co Antrim, shortly after 3pm yesterday.
At least 10 homes along the country lane were evacuated and two bomb squad vehicles moved in shortly afterwards to check for booby-traps, before the body was finally moved four hours later.
The killing is believed to be the first time loyalists have murdered anyone directly named as an IRA informer, although in the past a number of people have been killed after being accused of passing information to the security forces.
At first, yesterday, the security forces had difficulty finding the body of the man, said to be from the Ligoniel area in the north of the city, but it was eventually discovered in a ditch.
The statement claimed that the man had admitted under questioning that he had set up a number of Protestants as targets for the IRA, including Lennie Murphy, leader of the Shankill Butchers, who was murdered in 1982. The caller to Ulster Television went on to say that the man had expressed remorse for what he had done, though the caller declined to indicate whether the confession had been extracted under torture.
The IRA later issued a statement saying that the man had never passed any information to them.