06 March 2006

Loyalists claim handgun threat to taxi driver

Belfast Telegraph

**How much play do you think the Belfast Telegraph would be giving this story if it were the IRA who had tried to murder a loyalist taxi driver and all loyalist ex-prisoners were under death threat?

By Linda McKee
06 March 2006

Loyalist paramilitaries were behind the threatening of a taxi driver at gunpoint in north Belfast.

The Red Hand Defenders' admission to a daily newspaper follows Sinn Fein claims that the driver only escaped unscathed because the weapon jammed.

The Red Hand Defenders is a cover name that has been used by the UDA/UFF, which claims to be on ceasefire, and LVF-linked loyalists.

The man was targeted after picking up four men at the Belldoc area of the Crumlin Road shortly after 10pm on Saturday.

He drove to Ligoniel, where one of the men produced what is believed to have been a handgun, placed it to the back of his head and threatened to shoot him.

Police said that in the ensuing struggle the driver escaped from the vehicle uninjured.

It is thought the four attackers fled down an alley at the side of McKenna's pub. Sinn Fein North Belfast councillor Caral Ni Chuilin said the taxi driver narrowly escaped a murder bid after the gun jammed. "These men went with the intention of killing someone. There is clearly a sectarian motivation in this attempted murder," she said. "This is a very serious development. This taxi driver was going about his daily business. He was targeted because of where he worked. "The only thing that saved this man's life was the fact that the gun jammed."

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