By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — Loyalists posing as Glasgow Celtic supporters are being sought by police after a series of attacks in flashpoint North Belfast. It’s the latest twist in increasingly violent confrontations in the area.
As bitterly contested loyalist marches were taking place in the city center, a 17-year-old Protestant youth was stabbed three times in the head after being confronted by a loyalist gang in an area plagued by sectarian strife.
He had just gotten off a bus on the edge of the Catholic New Lodge and Protestant Tiger’s Bay areas when he was approached and asked his religion by four youths, one of them dressed in Celtic`s green and white.
The victim told his attackers, who he thought were Catholic because of the Celtic top, that he was a Catholic in a bid to escape injury. This is not the first time loyalists have mistakenly identified a Protestant youth as a Catholic with the intent of perpetuating a sectarian attack.
As he was fleeing, he stumbled, was set upon, and was stabbed and beaten.
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Earlier, a woman was stopped in her car at the nearby Duncairn Gardens/North Queen Street junction by three youths, the ringleader again wearing a Celtic jersey.
She was questioned before the gang leader smashed her car windows and began beating her while his accomplices wrecked her car. She got out and ran to safety before her attackers stole the vehicle, which was later found abandoned.
In both incidents, the culprits made off toward the staunchly loyalist Tiger`s Bay area, where no Catholic would venture, day or night.
Police sources said members of the Ulster Young Militants, the youth wing of the Ulster Defense Association, regularly disguise themselves in the Catholic club`s colors. “There is a code where some of the head youths would wear Celtic tops,” one source said.