A Catholic postal worker was shot dead today as he arrived for work at a sorting office on the northern outskirts of Belfast. Police said the murder bore all the hallmarks of a loyalist sectarian killing.
The 20-year-old man was shot several times outside the Royal Mail office at Barna Square in the strongly-loyalist Rathcoole area at 4.55am, said police.
He had just parked his car outside the sorting office when he was approached by two men wearing dark clothes and with scarves pulled across their faces. He was shot several times at close range and died later in Belfast's Mater Hospital.
The gunmen made off in a silver Renault 19 car which was found on fire a short distance away soon afterwards. The area around the sorting office was sealed off while police searched it for evidence linked to the killing.
Detective Superintendent Roy Suitters said the killers had been lying in wait for their victim. As he parked his car they had run across the road from a parked car and shot him several timers at close range, he said.
Mr Suitters, who is leading the murder investigation, added: "This poor fellow has obviously been targeted as a Catholic working in a loyalist estate and for no other reason."
Tom Gillen, of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, condemned the killing. He said he had a feeling of "total disgust that we have to acknowledge the murder of another innocent worker going about his business".
"At a quarter to five in the morning he left his home to go and do an honest day's work and was murdered by sectarian bigots. Really, the situation is even worse than it was before and has to be totally condemned," he said.