Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) have carried out more than 50 sectarian attacks on Catholics. since the New Year. In early February an old girl lifted a pipe from her garden and carried it into her home.
Little Cleona Magee’s brush with death at her west Belfast home sparked off a chorus of condemnation aimed at the UFF, British Army explosives experts who were called to Celona s home to dismantle the deadly device said the child had been lucky to escape death or disfigurement.
The attack was the fourth attempt to kill members of the family in recent days.
There were fears that the Loyalist hate campaign had spread to the mainly pro-Agreement Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) after the discovery of a huge explosives cache in a north Belfast area controlled by the group. The cache included an under-car boobytrap bomb, a bomb built into a fare extinguisher, a coffee-jar bomb, and 11 pipe bombs.
However, Billy Hutchinson, of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), the political party linked to the UVF, moved to reassure nationalists that the explosives were not to be used in sectarian attacks. They were, he claimed, remnants of devices to be used in last year’s Loyalist feud between the UVF and the dissident sections of the UFF.
RUC superintendent Roger Maxwell described the recovered explosives as “extremely unstable,” and claimed that the lives of residents had been put at serious risk. ♦