Named locally as John ‘Bonzer’ Boreland, the dead man was a close associate of Andre Shoukri and had survived a previous murder bid.
The attack took place in Sunningdale Gardens off the Ballysillan Road around 9.50pm.
There has been tension between rival loyalist groupings in north Belfast in recent weeks although the motive for the murder is not yet clear.
First minister Arlene Foster said she was “shocked and disgusted” at the news and urged “everyone to work with the police” as they carry out their investigation, while deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said: “There can be no justification for the murder of a well known loyalist in north Belfast tonight. This was shameful and I unreservedly condemn it,” he tweeted.
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Ulster Unionist justice spokesman Doug Beattie said the shooting was another example of the “total contempt for life” in some quarters of our society, and added: “It matters not what this man was linked to in the past or indeed if he was a member of the Ulster Defence Association.
“I call for calm in the area,” Mr Beattie added.
Secretary of State James Brokenshire said he was concerned, and that there was “no place for violence in communities”.
PUP councillor Julie-anne Corr Johnston said she was “heavy hearted” at news of the murder and added: “Such barbaric acts of violence can only be carried out by those with no regard for the rule of law not least human life. Such acts will neither be welcome nor supported in north Belfast.”
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly tweeted: “Just heard that a man was shot dead in North Belfast. Whoever did it It must be condemned outright and information brought to police.”
Naomi Long of Alliance said she “utterly condemned” the killing.
“Murder is always wrong and there can never be any excuse for people bringing guns onto the streets. Yet another family will now have to bear the grief of a life lost and yet another community will be living in fear,” she added.