Loyalist leader Adair survives pipe bomb attack

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The Independent Online

The loyalist paramilitary leader Johnny Adair yesterday insisted, in the face of widespread scepticism, that a small explosion in north Belfast represented an IRA attempt to assassinate him.

The loyalist paramilitary leader Johnny Adair yesterday insisted, in the face of widespread scepticism, that a small explosion in north Belfast represented an IRA attempt to assassinate him.

But the security forces and republicans, who for once were of the same mind, both doubted that this was the case partly because the device, a crude pipe-bomb, is very much a weapon favoured by loyalists and not used by republicans.

The incident, which took place in the early hours of yesterday, resulted in damage to the windscreen of a car. Johnny Adair, regarded as local leader of the Ulster Defence Association, said he was inside the vehicle at the time.

According to Mr Adair: "I was sitting in a car minding my own business when someone threw a blast bomb at me. They came from behind, like cowards, as they always do. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the Provisional IRA."

He said republicans had used a loyalist-style device because they did not want it to be traced back to them.

Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein said he found this account "highly dubious." Mr Kelly claimed this and other incidents were about securing "the UDA's drug base," adding: "The suspicion is that this is a very specific area of north and west Belfast, although it's starting to spread now. We know on the ground that the UDA and UFF in this area are very heavily involved in drugs and I suspect very strongly that it's more to do with that."

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