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As feud grows, loyalist maimed by booby-trap bomb

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BANGOR, Co. Down — Both the UDA and UVF have stepped up attacks on each other and there are fears of a bloodbath unless a deal can be brokered soon.

On Monday morning, a booby-trap bomb ripped through the underside of a van being driven by loyalist Sandy Rice in the center of the quiet seaside town of Bangor, north Down. He fell from his cab onto the road, where he was given first aid for serious leg injuries.

Witnesses said he was still conscious but had lost a lot of blood as he lay on the roadway awaiting an ambulance. Rice was chief security guard at a local nightclub, the Boom Boom Room.

A friend, David Ervine of the PUP, said Rice had fallen foul of LVF-linked drug dealers in the town after throwing them out of the club. He denied reports that the attack was related to the ongoing loyalist feud. However, police sources said it was connected.

The familiar sight of police tape cordoning off the road, the British Army robot exploring the remains of the bomb, and blood-soaked blankets could be seen after the explosion on what was otherwise a bright, sunny day.

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Three other men in the van were treated for minor cuts and shock. Police said the four men had been working in a nearby cafe and had just left the premises when the explosion occurred.

The attack came within hours of a blast at the offices of the Ulster Democratic Party on the Shankill Road in Belfast. The building was extensively damaged in the 2 a.m. blast.

The UDP is linked to the loyalist paramilitary UDA, which is involved in a feud with the rival Ulster Volunteer Force. The building that was targeted is also used by Ulster Prisoners’ Aid, which works with former UDA prisoners.

After the bombing, the RUC examined the building and found a tail fin for a mortar bomb, component parts for pipe bombs and grenades, balaclavas, gloves and combat clothing. There was no immediate explanation for the haul at what was supposed to be a drop-in center for ex-prisoners where UDP leader John White had his office.

White said the UVF was responsible for the bombing and said the leadership had lost control of its members. The "cowardly attack" had been carried out by "morons who had no idea what was good for the Shankill community and would not listen to sense," he said.

"The only way this will come to an end is for the UVF leadership to take control of their organization and control the thugs and bully boys who are running about intimidating women and children, burning people out of their homes and blowing buildings up," White said.

The RUC chief constable described the ongoing attacks as "sinister developments". Speaking at meeting between the Garda commissioner, Pat Byrne, and the RUC in Dublin, Sir Ronnie Flanagan said that it was "heart-breaking to see a community ripping itself apart."

Flanagan said that the RUC are in the Shankill area in very great strength and will remain there in strength, but it is not a security issue alone. The chief constable called on everybody of influence, elected representatives and community representatives, to exercise their influence for the good.

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