Attacks by paramilitaries reach eight-year high

The number of paramilitary attacks in Northern Ireland is at its highest level in eight years, it has emerged.

Paramilitaries carried out 94 shootings and assaults up to November
Paramilitaries carried out 94 shootings and assaults up to November

Loyalists and republicans carried out around a total of 94 shootings and assaults in the first 11 months of this year, a substantial rise on the 85 attacks recorded during 2016.

Some 24 shootings were carried out from January to November this year, with police attributing all but three of them to dissident republicans.

Loyalists were linked to 55 assaults over the same period, compared to 15 attributed to republicans.

There have been a number of attacks this month which are not included in the latest PSNI statistics.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old man was left with potentially life-changing injuries after being shot twice in the legs in west Belfast.

Another man was shot in the leg on Boxing Day in Londonderry, and earlier this month in the Creggan area of the city, a man in his 40s was shot in the ankle in what police described as a “brutal and horrific attack”.

Not since 2009 has there been more paramilitary-style attacks in the Province, when there were 122 casualties.

The figures, released by the PSNI, show that republicans are responsible for the overwhelming majority of shootings. Conversely, loyalist groups are far more likely to be involved in assaults, or so-called punishment attacks.

Deaths resulting from paramilitary attacks are not included in the figures, as these are classified by police as security-related deaths.

In March this year, prominent loyalist Geordie Gilmore was shot and killed in Carrickfergus.

And in May, 35-year-old Colin Horner was shot dead in Bangor.

Both killings are believed to have part of a loyalist feud.