Loyalists accused of petrol attack

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The Independent Online

Police were investigating a paramilitary-style shooting and a petrol bomb attack on a house in a nationalist district of Belfast yesterday amid fears they marked a fresh outbreak of sectarian violence.

Police were investigating a paramilitary-style shooting and a petrol bomb attack on a house in a nationalist district of Belfast yesterday amid fears they marked a fresh outbreak of sectarian violence.

Loyalists were blamed by the Sinn Fein councillor Sean Hayes for the petrol bomb attack in the lower Ormeau area and for two bricks thrown through the window of an adjoining house.

However, the RUC refused to corroborate the claim that the attacks were sectarian and a spokesman said they were following a number of lines of inquiry.

Several men were seen fleeing the area in a maroon Ford Mondeo heading for the loyalist Annadale Embankment area.

The lower Ormeau district has been the scene of confrontations in recent years between loyalists and nationalists during the marching season.

In a separate incident, a 29-year-old man was being treated in hospital after suffering bullet wounds to both ankles in a shooting in the Catholic Short Strand, east Belfast. The injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

With tensions running high in Northern Ireland, a planned search by police recovered a coffee jar containing 1kg of suspected explosives in north Belfast.

Police said it was found in undergrowth on waste ground near playing fields at Brae Hill Park, Ballysillan, during the security operation. The area was cordoned off while Army bomb disposal experts examined the object. No detonator was found.

Meanwhile, Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, has announced that Bill Clinton, the US President, will make a third visit to Northern Ireland later this year.

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