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9 September 2004 Edition

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Sinn Féin members sent bullets in post

The Red Hand Defenders have claimed responsibility for sending letters containing bullets to leading Sinn Féin members last week. In their statement claiming responsibility the loyalist gang threatened further sectarian attacks.

On Wednesday 2 September 12 envelopes, each containing a bullet and addressed to a Sinn Féin member, including one sent to the home of Party President Gerry Adams, were intercepted by staff at the Post Office sorting office at Mallusk outside Belfast. The next day a 13th letter containing a bullet arrived at the home of Falls Councillor Paul Maskey.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Conor Murphy said the campaign of sectarian attacks from unionist paramilitaries was being stepped up.

"Unionist politicians will no doubt continue to focus their attentions on the silent guns of the IRA while ignoring, and in some cases justifying, ongoing unionist paramilitary attacks on the nationalist community. The hypocrisy of their position is breathtaking and insulting".

Among those sent the bullets were Assembly members Alex Maskey, Gerry Kelly, Fra McCann and Philip McGuigan, Belfast Councillor Gerard O'Neill, Lisburn Councillor Veronica Willis and Down Councillor Francie Braniff.

A bullet intended for Belfast republican Bobby Storey was also discovered, however the address on the envelope was that of Storey's elderly parents.

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