Man shot dead in Protestant hotspot in N. Ireland: police

28th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A man was shot dead Friday on the Shankill Road in Belfast, a staunchly Protestant area of Northern Ireland's capital, police said.

The victim was crossing the street, a notorious hotspot during the British province's three decades of sectarian violence, when he was felled by a burst of gunfire, a police source told AFP.

The victim, believed to be in his mid 40s, was gunned down at point blank range as the road was packed with lunchtime shoppers. Eyewitnesses said masked gunmen shot him in the face.

There were no further details, but the killing comes after a resurgence in violence in Northern Ireland over the last 18 months, including the murders of two British soldiers in March 2009.

Most recently, a viable car bomb device was left outside a polling station in Londonderry, Northern Ireland's second city on May 6, disrupting voting in British general elections.

Earlier this week a paramilitary watchdog, the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), warned that dissident republican groups remain "highly active and dangerous" even if they command little support.

The IMC said mainstream organisations continue to follow the peaceful path set out by the 1998 Good Friday peace accords, which largely ended the three decades of so-called Troubles.

More than 3,500 people died in civil strife between Catholics who wanted the province to become part of the Republic of Ireland and Protestants who wanted to stay within the United Kingdom.

© 2010 AFP

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