Loyalist killed in pipe-bomb blast

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The Independent Online

Northern Ireland's first Troubles-related death of 2002 supports the pattern that most violence now originates from loyalists, not republicans.

Northern Ireland's first Troubles-related death of 2002 supports the pattern that most violence now originates from loyalists, not republicans.

A Protestant teenager, William Campbell, 19, was killed instantly when the pipe-bomb he was handling exploded in an alley close to his home in Coleraine, Co Londonderry. His body was found by his father, who went to the scene after hearing the explosion on Thursday night.

A police spokesman said: "It would appear that he was working on the device and it exploded in his face."

The Coleraine area has been hit by a wave of loyalist pipe-bombings directed against Catholic targets over the past year. A Catholic man was also shot dead there last summer.

The town's Catholic mayor, John Dallat, said: "With so many pipe-bomb and blast-bomb attacks in Coleraine it was inevitable that eventually someone would lose their life, whether that was the perpetrator or the victim of this violence." He said he feared the incident might have signalled the start of a new round of attacks. "I have been worried for some time that there is a Ho Chi Minh trail from north Antrim to Derry City which is focused largely on Coleraine."

Of the 19 Troubles-related deaths last year, 14 were thought to be the work of loyalists. One of those to die was a Protestant teenager killed when a pipe-bomb he was holding exploded during disturbances in north Belfast.

Although hundreds of the often crudely home-made devices have been used by loyalists they have only rarely caused deaths or serious injuries. On Thursday night a device was thrown through a window of a Catholic home in Manor Street, a regular trouble-spot in north Belfast. A mother and her four young children, who were upstairs at the time, escaped injury, but the explosion caused substantial damage to the floor, walls and ceiling.

The woman said afterwards: "I was putting the kids down at about 9.30 last night and as soon as I got them to sleep all I heard was a big bang. I'm out. I'm not coming back near here."

A minor republican group, the Irish National Liberation Army, warned that strains were being placed on its ceasefire by "the escalating attacks on the nationalist working class by hate-filled loyalism".

In another incident the Larne home of the SDLP Assembly member Danny O'Connor was attacked by three masked men.

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