UFF threatens to lift ceasefire after attacks on homes

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The Independent Online

A gunman fired a shot at police responding to reports of an armed display by an outlawed paramilitary organization in Belfast early Friday morning.

A gunman fired a shot at police responding to reports of an armed display by an outlawed paramilitary organization in Belfast early Friday morning.

Officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary were investigating reports that a unit of the pro-British group the Ulster Freedom Fighters was firing shots into the air in the Shankill Parade area in the west of the city.

As they pursued four men, a projectile was thrown through the windshield of a patrol car and one shot was fired.

There were no injuries and no one was arrested.

The UFF - which is officially on cease-fire - said today it was reinstating its threat, lifted last month, to kill Catholics who harassed Protestant families.

It said it staged the show of strength because nationalists were attacking loyalist homes in the city.

Six attacks on Catholic homes in north Belfast were also reported Thursday night.

Prisoners affiliated with the UFF and other armed groups observing cease-fires were freed from the Maze prison late last month under a provision of Northern Ireland's 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

John White, chairman of the Ulster Democratic Party, which is linked to the UFF, said he was aware of the group's show of strength and decision to renew its threat of violence.

"I won't condemn it. No," he told the BBC.

But he added: "I certainly condemn the shots being fired at the police."

Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly said the UDP chairman would need to be certain about whether the Ulster Freedom Fighters had reinstated their threat.

"He'd like to be clear because people are going to be in fear of the fact that the guns were out last night and the UFF has reinstated its threat against Catholics," he said.

"Whoever attacked the homes in the Protestant areas, they're absolutely and totally wrong to threaten attacks on innocent people in their homes - likewise in Catholic homes."

- Irish soldiers discovered half a ton of homemade explosives in a van that crossed the border from Northern Ireland, police said Friday.

Bomb-disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion on the vehicle after it was found dumped in the northwestern county of Donegal on Thursday night.

The van had been chased to the border by Northern Ireland police officers after it ran a police checkpoint near the city of Londonderry.

Irish police were examining a second vehicle which was also found abandoned following about five miles away.

No arrests had been made.

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