Blast thought to be work of UVF


FORENSIC examination of the bomb which injured a north Belfast republican may determine whether the attack marks the end of the loyalist ceasefire.

No organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack on Mr Eddie Copeland in Ardoyne, but security and loyalist sources were last night identifying the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as the group most likely to have carried it out.

The UVF had begun bomb making in a significant way just before it called its ceasefire, along with the other loyalist group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), in October 1994. The UDA has no advanced bomb making skills, although it did attempt a number of car bombings prior to 1994.

There was no comment from sources close to the UVF at the weekend. However, sources close to the UDA indicated that it had already begun targeting republicans with a view to retaliatory attacks, in anticipation of IRA violence resuming in the North.

The UDA sources said its intention would be to target known republican figures in Northern Ireland and also to attack unspecified targets in the Republic.

The sources said that after the IRA's gun attack on RUC officers escorting a loyalist politician, Mr Nigel Dodds, and his wife on a visit to their seriously ill child in the Royal Victoria Hospital, a return of loyalist violence was inevitable.

The loyalists had surprised security and government figures earlier this year when they opted to maintain their ceasefire after the IRA attacked the British army headquarters in Lisburn, Co Antrim, in September.

Examination of the remains of the bomb will indicate the likely source of the device. Loyalist and republican bombs are entirely dissimilar. The republicans would use Semtex plastic explosive in an under car booby trap, whereas loyalists would tend to use other brands of commercial explosive.