Masked men who issued a death threat to drug dealers in Omagh have been accused of using an emotive issue to justify paramilitary activity.
The threat to interrogate, knee-cap or “execute if necessary” those circulating drugs in the area was issued via the Ulster Herald newspaper.
The threat came after the drugs-related death of 19-year-old Emma Doogan from the town.
The statement, from an organisation which did not wish to disclose its name, came with a picture of three men wearing balaclavas and military-style clothing with guns.
It has been reported by the Ulster Herald that six people with links to the Omagh area have been visited by the PSNI this past week to warn of the immediate threat against their lives.
The PSNI could not confirm if these visits had taken place due to its policy about not discussing the security of any individual. However, police said if they received information that someone may need to review their security, they will take steps to inform them accordingly.
Ulster Unionist councillor for the area Chris Smyth said: “While these people claim to be doing good for the area and claim to be trying to rid the scourge of drugs from Omagh, the reality is that they are not a friend to the people of Omagh.
“Sometimes paramilitaries use emotive issues like death by drugs as a way of legitimising themselves.
“When they do that they set themselves up as an alternative police force and the authority of an area.
“That’s not the society I want to live in where the streets are ruled by thugs with shotguns and balaclavas.”
He added: “What the people of Omagh need is proper clamping down on drugs from legitimate forces of the state and they need the help of the community to do that.”