A man shot and wounded as part of a worsening gangland feud in Co Louth is a leading figure in one of the two armed gangs involved in the gun violence.
Gardaí suspect arson attacks on houses in Drogheda about four hours after Thursday night's shooting were directly linked to the gun attack.
The man who was shot has come to the attention of the Garda for drug dealing and extreme violence in recent years, with his criminal history predating the start of the Drogheda feud last July.
The man, who is in his 20s and from Drogheda, was shot in the town just before 8pm as he drove a silver VW Golf on Elmwood Close, Termon Abbey.
Despite being injured, the man left the scene in the vehicle and presented himself for treatment at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in the town minutes later.
Gardaí are treating the attack on the man as an attempted murder, however, his injuries are not life threatening. He was treated in hospital and later discharged and is expected to make a full recovery.
Gardaí believe he is one of the main instigators of the petrol bomb attacks in the Moneymore area, which caused damage to a number of properties.
The house that appears to have been singled out suffered extensive damage and the fire spread, which forced adjoining houses to be evacuated.
There were no injuries as a result of the incident but security sources said that had the targeted house been occupied at the time, there was a high likelihood of serious injury or fatalities as the fire spread quickly.
In a second attack, a couple and children were forced to flee from a property that was set on fire. The attacks occurred within about 10 minutes of each other, at 11.40pm and 11.50pm.
One of the properties was completely gutted by the flames and was regarded as the worst arson attack since the drug-related gang feud began last July.
Gardaí are working on the theory that associates of the wounded man carried out the arson attacks by pouring petrol into one property and setting it alight and possibly throwing a container with petrol at the second house.
Gardaí have appealed for witnesses to the shooting and the arson attacks to come forward. Two vehicles were seen being driven away from the scene of the shooting – a Grey Peugeot 407 with the registration 07C2620, and a Grey Honda Accord with the registration 05D13539.
The Honda was found on fire at Carstown railway bridge in Termonfeckin at about 8.10pm. The Peugeot 407 was seen on fire at Starinagh, Collon at about 8.30pm.
Gardaí are eager to speak to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious on the Moneymore estate around the time of the fires to come forward. They are also seeking to speak to anyone who noticed anything suspicious in the areas where the vehicles were found on fire.
Chief Supt Christy Mangan and Supt Andrew Watters said the violence was being perpetrated by a small group of people and that every effort was being made to bring them to justice.
There have been more than 70 feud-related incidents, including shootings and petrol bombings, since simmering tensions erupted into a gun feud between the rival group after a man was shot and left paralysed last July. A number of men have since been shot and wounded but there have been no fatalities to date in the feud.