Kelly’s fight lasted for ten minutes

Witnesses to Bobby Tohill’s alleged abduction spoke of how he fought with four men for 10 minutes before being bundled into the back of a van.

According to drinkers in Kelly’s Cellars, a boiler suited gang burst into the pub at teatime on Friday shouting: “We’re only here for one man, no one else get involved.”

Tohill was beaten with flick-sticks – extended steel rods favoured by nightclub bouncers. After a 10-minute fight that turned the white walls of Kelly’s Cellars red with blood, Tohill was placed in the back of a waiting blue Renault van.

A short time later the van was rammed by an unmarked PSNI car at the junction of the Falls Road and Millfield College. Four men were arrested at the scene and Tohill was rushed to hospital. He signed himself out of the Royal Victoria Hospital on Sunday after receiving 98 stitches for head and body wounds.

The PSNI claim that they were alerted to the attempted abduction by a telephone call from Kelly’s Cellars. However, reports have emerged that the operation may have been a set-up.

During an interview with the Andersonstown News outside Kelly’s Cellars two hours before his alleged abduction, a friend of Tohill’s approached and warned him he was being watched by the PSNI.

Immediately after the incident Chief Constable Hugh Orde claimed the alleged abduction was the work of the Provisional IRA. However, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams yesterday criticised Hugh Orde’s comments after the alleged abduction.

“There have been such claims about the IRA before. They have proven to be without foundation. But Hugh Orde’s speedy allegations follows a pattern going back to the old RUC which was also quick to point the finger at republicans while turning a blind eye to others.

“What value the rights of those arrested? What chance that they will receive a fair hearing? All of those involved need to catch themselves on. The threat to the peace process does not come from republicans.”

Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has demanded an immediate review of the IRA ceasefire.

The SDLP’s Alex Attwood said there can be no halfway house between violence and democracy.

Six people were last night being questioned by the PSNI about Friday’s incident.

* The Andersonstown News will start legal proceedings this morning for the return of a company phone seized by PSNI officers investigating the Tohill affair. “This phone was taken from a senior member of our editorial staff and we will be demanding its return,” said a newspaper spokesman. “This is yet another attack on our newsteam by the PSNI.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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