13 January 2000 Edition

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Sectarian murder attempt in Derry

By Laura Friel

A Catholic businessman narrowly escaped death after loyalists beat him unconscious before setting fire to his shop in the Tullyalley estate on the outskirts of Derry.

Gerard Brolly was pulled from the blaze within minutes of certain death as the fire swept through the fish and chip shop in the early hours of Sunday, 11 January.

The attack, which involved a number of men, took place shortly after 3am. The owner was knocked unconscious after refusing to hand over money to the gang. The attackers then set fire to the premises, pulling the shop's shutters down as they left.

The victim was found lying behind the counter with a display unit on top of him. The back of the building was ablaze and the rest of the shop filled with dense smoke.

The shopkeeper was taken to Altnagelvin hospital, where he was detained and treated for smoke inhalation and bruising.

Initial RUC statements concerning the attack cited robbery as the motive but nothing is believed to have been taken from the premises by the gang.

Tullyalley is a predominantly loyalist estate. Local sources believe that the motive behind the attack was sectarian. ``This was a sectarian murder attempt,'' said the source. ``Everyone around here knows it. I don't know why the RUC are passing it off as a robbery.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1