THE Ulster Freedom Fighters will abandon the loyalist ceasefire and target nationalists if the IRA kills any more people in Northern Ireland, a senior loyalist paramilitary source said yesterday. The UFF would embark on a campaign against the "general nationalist population", the source said.
The UFF is the cover-name used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) for killings and other acts of violence. The UDA/UFF is still officially maintaining a ceasefire, along with the other main loyalist organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
The source said yesterday that if the IRA landmine at Belfast Castle on New Year's Eve had caused any deaths, the UDA/UFF "would be back - big time
He would not comment on whether the organisation had carried out the two under-car booby-trap bomb attacks on leading republicans in Derry and Belfast during the past two weeks. He did admit that there had been "selective action" by the organisation but would not elaborate. He stressed that if there was any "loss of life" due to IRA attacks the loyalist campaign would resume.
However, other loyalists insist the attacks were the work of the UDA/UFF. The organisation had developed an ineffective under-car bomb before the loyalist ceasefire of October, 1994. The only person injured by the previous bomb was a British army ordnance officer who lost a hand while trying to defuse one in 1993. It would appear the device has since been improved.
Sources close to the UVF say the two booby-trap bomb attacks were unilateral actions taken without their knowledge. The attacks were not claimed but are seen as effectively ending the UDA/UFF element of the 26-month loyalist ceasefire.
According to one Northern security source yesterday, the UDA/UFF has also been manufacturing the highly unstable but powerful explosive nitro-glycerine.
The other loyalist group, the UVF, has not yet given any indication of its intentions. The west Belfast UVF met two months ago, in the wake of the IRA attack the British army headquarters in Northern Ireland, and voted narrowly against a resumption of violence. This position could be reversed by further IRA violence.
Loyalist sources have said there was some strain between the UVF and the UDA after the booby-trap attack which injured the Belfast republican, Mr Eddie Copeland, on December 22nd last.
The two organisations announced their ceasefire together and are, ostensibly, part of the same loyalist umbrella organisation - the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC). If the UDA/UFF admit the two bombings, it should have repercussions for its political wing, the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), bled by Mr Gary McMichael, which is still engaged in the talks process at Stormont.