Ulster nine receive `flee or die' threats

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NINE PEOPLE have been ordered to leave Northern Ireland or face death at the hands of republican paramilitaries, according to a report yesterday.

Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) - believed to be an IRA cover name - selected the nine, who live in Bessbrook, South Armagh. Some, including at least one woman and several parents, have fled the Bessbrook area, said the Irish News.

DAAD has been relatively inactive since carrying out a campaign against drug dealers between 1995 and 1998 in which nine men were shot dead. The Royal Ulster Constabulary is understood to have warned the nine after a letter was sent to the Northern Ireland public housing body, the Housing Executive. Sinn Fein dismissed the letter as mischief-making.

Meanwhile a 16-year-old youth is recovering in hospital after another paramilitary-style attack in Belfast. He was walking in the Shankill Road area when he was attacked by two masked men wielding iron bars.

In another incident, an RUC officer suffered head injuries when officers were attacked in west Belfast as they made an arms find.