::: u.tv :::


A Catholic family targeted during a suspected sectarian gun attack only moved into their home two weeks ago.
By:Press Association

The badly shaken victims, a man and his three children, are believed to have been put into a staunchly Protestant estate in Ballynahinch, Co Down by a private landlord.

But the youngsters, aged 15, eight and six, woke in terror when gunmen opened fire on the property overnight.

At least two bullets hit the house, one shattering a living room window and showering the 34-year-old father in glass.

He sprinted upstairs and barricaded his family into a bedroom before phoning the police.

The loyalist Ulster Defence Association has been blamed for opening fire at Calbert Way.

But sources in the area were stunned that the family, who are believed to be from the greater Belfast area, were allowed to put themselves in such danger.

One said: ``They just moved in two weeks ago, but why on earth did anyone put Catholics in there?

``It`s the most singly loyalist estate in south Down. There`s 200 homes and 200 Protestants.

``One guy was run out of that area just because he used to go with a Catholic.

``This family have got themselves caught up in a situation where they have been offered a house by someone who should have known a lot better.``

Although they escaped injury, their ordeal has left them suffering from severe shock.

A living room wall, a hall door and a window were all damaged in the attack.

Jim Wells, a Democratic Unionist Assembly member for the area, hit out at the attack.

He said: ``This was hooligan activity that was meant to intimidate rather than injure.

``But had a child been downstairs we could have been dealing with serious injury or death.``

Margaret Ritchie, a nationalist SDLP MLA for South Down, claimed it was sheer luck that no one was killed.

``How could anyone have taken the lives of three kids into their own hands?`` she asked.

``How much lower will these thugs stoop. This is a disgraceful and despicable incident and no cause in Ireland could explain or justify it.``

Hours after the gun attack army explosives experts defused a pipe bomb in north Belfast.

Sinn Fein claimed the device, filled with shotgun pellets, was discovered outside the home of a nationalist family in the Whitewell area of the city.

Although no one was injured, Danny Lavery, one of the republican party`s councillors, claimed it was a sectarian attack.

He added: ``At a time when unionists are attacking Sinn Fein over spurious allegations of IRA violence they appear to have little to say about serious attacks by unionist paramilitaries against nationalist families.``

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