15 February 2001 Edition

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UVF pipe bomb factory discovered

A bomb factory found in a block of flats off Belfast's Shore Road has been linked to the UVF. Recent sectarian pipe bomb attacks against Catholic families were believed to be the work of the UDA. Now northern nationalists are asking just why were the UVF stockpiling this kind of weaponry and what was its intended use. The find comes amidst fears of escalating sectarian attacks on Catholic families throughout the North.

A haul of equipment used in the manufacture of these crude but deadly devices was found in the UVF stronghold of Mount Vernon last Monday. Also discovered was an undercar booby trap bomb, a coffee jar bomb and 10 kg of homemade explosives. A fire extinguisher packed with 20kg of explosives with a booster already attached was primed and ready for use.

Loyalist sources have said that the stockpile is linked to a particular UVF unit based in the area and renowned as ``hard line''. According to media reports the gang is led by a ruthless loyalist in his early 30s who was responsible for a wave of sectarian killings in the early 1990s.

More recently, the Mount Vernon gang has been linked to a number of killings, including Raymond McCord Jnr beaten to death in Newtownabbey in 1997. The North Belfast gang was linked to an attack on a pub in Portadown at the time of the LVF split.

It is thought that they were also involved in the killing last year of teenagers David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb outside Tandragee. The incident was seen as a reprisal for the LVF killing of Portadown UVF leader Richard Jameson.

Loyalists from Mount Vernon were at the forefront of the recent feud but more recently there have been tensions between the Shankill based UVF leadership and UVF members in Mount Vernon.

An Phoblacht
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