Loyalists step up pipe-bomb attacks

An exchange of gunfire and a number of pipe-bomb attacks escalated the level of violence on the streets of Northern Ireland over the weekend as the political world awaited publication of a package aimed at rescuing the peace process.

On the streets the pattern persisted of loyalist pipe-bomb attacks on Catholic targets, together with clashes involving the security forces and both loyalist and republican rioters.

Three police officers were injured in clashes in north Belfast, scene of many violent outbreaks over the summer.

Outside Belfast a loyalist pipe-bomb was defused by army experts at a Gaelic Athletic Association club in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, yesterday. A pipe-bomb was also used in an attack in the town of Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, exploding against a window-sill as a family slept inside. Meanwhile, at Bettystown, County Meath, police arrested four people who were thought to be Real IRA members. Two of the men are believed to be among the group's leaders.

* A man aged 51 has been charged with murdering Corporal Robert Moffett of the Ulster Defence Regiment in a landmine blast 27 years ago.

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