Police probe INLA link to hostage ordeal

20/10/2004 17:27:28 UTV

The INLA may have been behind a family's hostage ordeal in north
Belfast, it emerged tonight.
By:Press Association

Members of the armed gang who forced a Post Office boss to empty a
safe if she wanted to see her husband and children again claimed they
represented the republican terrorists.

Police have also revealed two young children were held barefoot
overnight at a derelict house during the terrifying robbery.

Up to five men burst into a house on Deerpark Road on Sunday night,
and seized the girls, aged three and six, along with their father.

They were later driven to a disused property on the Seven Mile
Straight near Antrim, while the woman was forced to stay at home

Both girls were dressed only in their night-clothes when the robbers
ordered them to go with them.

After being held in a car for most of the night they were led into
the derelict property, police said. Their father`s shoes were also

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "The house was down a lane and after the
captors left the father put his own socks on his eldest daughter.

"While he carried his youngest daughter they walked down the lane to
raise the alarm."

A passing motorist stopped for the exhausted and frightened family.
It is thought the thieves took tens of thousands of pounds from the
Post Office branch.

Police have so far refused to say whether paramilitaries carried out
the operation - the latest in a series of hostage-takings.

But while the IRA has been blamed for a £1.2 million cigarette heist
at a Belfast warehouse weeks earlier, detectives are this time
examining a possible INLA link.

Republican sources in Belfast close to the organisation`s strategy
tried to distance it from the raid.

The INLA leadership is too fearful of a dangerous row with IRA men to
carry out such an audacious robbery, one claimed.
"They have been totally emasculated in the north of the city," he

"They are terrified anything like that would bring them into conflict
with the Provos."

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