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16 January 1997 Edition

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Derry petrol bombs

By Deglan O Coileain

Nationalists living in Derry's Waterside are warning that lives will be lost if loyalist attacks on Catholic homes continue.

Three Catholic homes have been firebombed in the past week in mainly Protestant districts of the Waterside. In one case a young couple was forced to flee their blazing house with their three children - the youngest just two weeks old.

Sinn Féin's Waterside representative, Lynn Fleming suggested the upsurge in attacks was part of ``an orchestrated campaign by loyalists to intimidate and terrorise Catholic and mixed marriage families out of these areas''.

Fleming also called on those Protestants who have lived peacefully alongside their Catholic neighbours for years to ``show their support and solidarity with those who are now coming under attack by demanding an immediate end to these acts of naked sectarianism''. A similar public plea was made by Church of Ireland Bishop, James Mehaffey..

Derry UDP spokesperson David Nicholl has denied that his group or other loyalists are involved in the attacks, blaming them on an ``eruption of communal tensions''.

Despite Nicholl's denials loyalist activity has steadily risen in the Waterside in recent months. In one incident a loyalist gunman's weapon jammed as he prepared to open fire on a Catholic man. Catholics have regularly been beaten up, cars have been smashed and events culminated at Christmas with the attempted assination of Sinn Fein member Liam Duffy.
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