7 June 2001 Edition

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Belfast abduction attempt

A West Belfast man was tailed to his work last Friday in what is believed to have been a loyalist abduction attempt.

The victim, in his 50s and from the Ballymurphy area, was walking across Millfield on his way to work in the Castle Street area, around 6am on Friday morning when the incident took place.

``There is usually no one around at that time of the morning so it struck me as odd that this red Rover type car was driving so slowly,'' he said. ``It seemed to be following me on my way to work.I noticed that the two men in the car were watching me and so I got a bit alarmed and I started walking faster. When my back was turned to the car one of the men got out and started running towards me. I was absolutely terrified and started running for safety. At my age I'm not very fast on my feet and I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't managed to catch the attention of a security guard.

``When the man saw that he got into the car and they drove off into the Shankill through Browns Square,'' he said.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann said: ``This was a terrifying ordeal for the man involved and it looks very much like it was an attempted loyalist abduction. I would appeal to people to be very vigilant over the next couple of weeks, particulary with the approach of the marching season.''

Meanwhile, there have been four separate loyalist attacks on West Belfast taxi drivers last week. Drivers say the junction at Stewardstown Road-Blacks Road is a black spot for sectarian thugs. Micheal Browne, Sinn Féin councillor for the area, has called on community leaders to use their influence to prevent further incidents.

Taxi drivers fear that these are just the first attacks as tensions rise leading up to 12 July. Head of the West Belfast Taxi Association, Jim Neeson, said the Twinbrook and Poleglass route that passes the Blacks Road has been the scene of countless attacks over the years.

``The RUC assure me that they will do all they can to prevent further attacks,'' said Neeson. ``But in the past they have had little effect in deterring the attackers. I shall watch the situation with interest.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1