Belfast Loyalists Blamed in Violence Churches Condemn Protestant Extremists

Article excerpt

Northern Ireland's pro-British paramilitary groups are accused of an escalating series of often deadly shootings and bombings.

But the pro-British groups have not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks. They must maintain at least the appearance of a cease-fire or be banned from current talks on Northern Ireland's future - as the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party already has been.

In February of last year, the Irish Republican Army broke its 1994 cease-fire. Now, pro-British militants seem intent on following the IRA back into bloodshed, but they are pursuing a policy that cynical locals call "No claim, no blame." On Tuesday, gunmen abducted a Roman Catholic man from Bellaghy, a predominantly Catholic village northwest of Belfast. They killed him with two shots to the head. On Wednesday, a Catholic man escaped an apparent ambush in another rural village when the attacker's gun jammed. Earlier this year, loyalists were blamed for the slaying of a Catholic father of nine in his home in west Belfast, for five bombs placed outside Sinn Fein property and for a string of arson attacks on Catholic churches and schools. …