Leading loyalist is 'kneecapped' by his terror organisation

A leading loyalist figure was "kneecapped" by his own organisation yesterday as turbulence continued within a Belfast underworld racked by feuding and under increasing pressure from police.

Davy Mahood, a veteran Belfast loyalist described as a political consultant to the Ulster Defence Association, was shot in both legs by the UDA in the north of the city. His injuries are not life-threatening.

The UDA said the attack followed an "internal disciplinary hearing". The group said he was summoned before its leaders after a four-month investigation, adding: "Mahood's life was spared, largely because of the intervention of the new regime."

Control of the UDA in the north of the city has shifted, first with the sacking of one "brigadier" and then the removal of his successor, who is in custody awaiting trial for weapons possession.

In September Mr Mahood, a member of the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group, claimed republicans opened fire on him. The attack is thought to have been the work of loyalists.

The UDA is in the throes of internal feuding and clashes with another paramilitary outfit, the Loyalist Volunteer Force. These disagreements have led to two murders and a number of shootings.

The UDA and LVF are reportedly having talks aimed at patching up their differences, and the UDA has expelled its most notorious member, Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair.

Meanwhile, three senior loyalists were remanded in custody on terrorist-related extortion and blackmail charges after a police sting mounted against the UDA's money-making rackets in the city.

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