A new armed republican group has vowed to “execute” criminals in west and north Belfast.
In a chilling statement, released to the Andersonstown News, the as-yet unnamed group says it is ready to kill individuals involved in criminality.
In their statement, the group says it is acting in response to community demands and has carried out “an extensive but carefully constructed plan of military action”.
“We as an organisation are not strangers to the communities from which we come and in which we operate,” reads the statement.
“We are long established and have demonstrated our capabilities throughout decades of armed struggle.
“At present, we are not willing to publicly reveal our identity as we see no merit in doing so.
“We possess a list of targets that we have identified as part of a lengthy and continuing intelligence gathering operation.
“This is not a warning but a declaration of intent. Executions are imminent.”
In a photograph supplied along with the statement - showing four masked men behind a Starry Plough and a tricolour on a table containing a revolver, an automatic pistol and an assault rifle - it appears the group has the weapons to carry out the threat.
It has been claimed he group is closely aligned to the INLA.
Last night PSNI Chief Inspector Anthony McNally said: “It is extremely concerning that, in this instance, a group are openly displaying firearms and declaring their intent to injure people.”
He said the PSNI “work continuously to prevent, detect and deter all criminal activity and anyone who takes the law into their own hands is, in effect, breaking the law and actions of this nature can only be regarded as criminal”.
“Across west Belfast in the past week alone we have carried out over a dozen searches in respect of illegal drug use, with a significant amount of drugs recovered and a number of persons arrested,” he added.
“I would therefore urge anyone with information to contact us at the earliest opportunity on 101 as Northern Ireland has a rigorous criminal justice system in place to address crime and all criminal activity, and there can be no place for vigilantism within this system.”