INLA is believed to be behind shooting of three RUC officers in Belfast


THE INLA was responsible for, two gun attacks in north Belfast in which three police officers were injured, according to republican sources.

The RUC came under fire in Ardoyne and Duncairn Gardens early yesterday. It was the first paramilitary action against the security forces since the IRA cease fire of August 31st, 1994.

No organisation has admitted the attacks but republican contacts have denied the IRA was involved and have said the INLA was responsible. Local people have confirmed this.

There are now growing fears the INLA will restart its campaign and put further pressure on the peace process. Local IRA commanders are also urging their leadership to resume violence in the North. At a meeting in west Belfast on Thursday night, one commander said the peace process was over and that attacks should be immediately carried out on loyalists. The room erupted in cheers.

However, it is believed senior Provisional leaders are working to lower the political temperature.

Four months ago, the INLA said it would "not stand idly by" if nationalists were attacked and would engage in "defensive and retaliatory action". It is understood the INLA has interpreted the Drumcree march, loyalist rioting, the intimidation of families from their homes and the RUC curfew of the lower Ormeau as an assault on the Catholic community.

Gunmen opened fire on police during rioting in Ardoyne at 1.40 a.m. Two officers were wounded. In a separate incident 30 minutes later, a third police officer escaped serious injury when a bullet penetrated the door of his Land Rover and hit his arm and helmet.

The INLA has been extremely critical of the peace process which it believes is "a sell out" of republican demands. In a statement, the paramilitary group's political wing, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, warned there was grave concern over the (de facto and qualified) INLA ceasefire.

IRSP spokesman, Mr Kevin McQuillan, said. "The decision by the British government to capitulate to loyalists in Drumcree and on the Ormeau Road underscores the unchanging sectarian nature of British rule in the six counties.

"Given what has been witnessed, can the Irish Government or any nationalist party honestly call for moderation or say there, there can be accommodation with these people?"