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15 June 2000 Edition

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Bomb aimed at silencing nationalists

The bomb which exploded at the rear of a house in Annalong last week was ``an attempt to silence the nationalist community'' in South Down in advance of an Orange band parade through the area in three weeks time, according to Martin Connolly of the Mourne Nationalists for Equality group.

He said that ``loyalist dissidents'', were behind the bombing last Wednesday 7 June, which could have killed or seriously injured the two women living in the house.

Connolly said that residents are opposed to the proposed band parade, for which the predominantly Catholic estate is put under virtual siege, and that the attack is a preemptive attempt to ``silence objections''.

The back of the Sherbey Drive house, where Anne Marie Cowen lives with her 20-year-old daughter, Marie, was wrecked in the no warning pipe bomb blast. According to Anne Marie Cowen, the bomb exploded at 11pm, and although she and her daughter, who was asleep upstairs, were uninjured, both women suffered shock.

Martin Connolly also criticised the RUC, who played down the attack, saying they had not established a motive for the bombing. But it has been disclosed that the bomb used to attack the Cowen home was similar to those found outside Castlewellan before Easter.

Those bombs, found near the loyalist village of Clough, which has been labeled, ``a centre of loyalist activity'', were a new and more sophisticated loyalist device.

The bombs were primed and ready for use and it was thought at the time they were to be used to attack the Easter Commemoration in Castlewellan.

Connolly said the Mourne Residents would now be seeking an ``urgent'' meeting with the Parades Commission to stress that they need ``to take action regarding this route and that the parade shouldn't be allowed into a nationalist residential area''.
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