Paramilitary attacks aimed at 'gaining control over those they claim to repesent'

PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont

PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont

Derry's district police commander has said those behind carrying out recent paramilitary attacks in the city are attempting to gain control over the community.

Superintendent Gordon McCalmont issued a statement to the Derry News following three incidents inside a week believed to have been carried out by paramilitaries and that have included two shootings and a hammer attack on a woman.

Mr McCalmont said: “The recent paramilitary style attacks in Derry area are brutal and barbaric and have no place in a civilised society.”

In the first of the incidents last week (Wednesday, September 25), police said the victim, a man in his 30s, sustained life-changing injuries after being shot twice in his legs and once in an ankle. After the incident in the Leafair area the victim was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for further treatment.

Speaking about the first incident, PSNI Chief Inspector Bob Blemmings said it bore all the hallmarks of a paramilitary attack.

“This was a vicious and brutal shooting in the early evening when families were going about their business and the fact that these gunmen thought it was acceptable to shoot this man in a built-up area where children and teenagers could be passing by shows contempt they have for people in their community.”

The following night, (Thursday, September 26), a gang of three masked men forced their way into a house at Bloomfield Park and assaulted a woman with a hammer. Two of the assailants attacked the woman whilst the third smashed windows and mirrors. The women's three children were also in the house when the attack took place around 11pm.

The victim was treated in hospital for her injuries which were not believed to be life-threatening.

Police again said this attack had “all the makings” of a paramilitary style assault with Detective Inspector Michael Winters adding: “This was a violent attack on a female. Furthermore, her three young children were home at the time. And, while physically uninjured, they have been left badly shaken. It was a traumatic ordeal, which no family should ever have to experience.”

And, on Monday night, (September 30) a man in his 30s was shot in both legs at Moss Park in the city around 10pm.

Superintendent McCalmont added: “Nothing gives these people the right to violate the human rights of people and their actions should be condemned by all.

“Those who are involved in these attacks do not represent the interests of this community, nor do they contribute anything to it.

“My colleagues are committed to tackling all types of violence and we will continue to focus our efforts on catching those responsible for these despicable, cruel acts. We will continue to work in partnership with local agencies, residents anjd community representatives.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy, Chair of the Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) said: “This is the third time I have had to issue a condemnation on shootings and assaults in the past week.

“I would reiterate that these attacks are not acceptable and must be condemned by all of us.

“As chair of the PCSP and an elected representative for Ballyarnett I know that people are disgusted and angry at the latest shooting. Again, this great area is in the news for the wrong reasons,

“It is clear that criminal elements are responsible for these shootings and assaults have absolutely no concern for people living here and their only wish is to try and exert some sort of coercive control over our areas.

“No one has the right to violate the human rights of any individual in this city or anyone else. My thoughts are with the victim of this horrific attack and I would urge anyone with information on this shooting to contact the PSNI or Crimestoppers immediately so that perpetrators can be removed from our community.”

SDLP Councillor for the district Brian Tierney said that there was a growing sense of anger in the Galliagh area over the incidents. The local reprsentative said that Monday's shooting would have a “lasting psychological impact” on the victim and urged public unity in the area in an effort to prevent future attacks.

“People here are angry that this is happening in our area. It needs to stop and needs to stop now.

“The people carrying out these attacks don't have the support or cover of the wider Galliagh community and they need to realise that” he said.

Appealing for information on the series of attacks, Superintendent McCalmont added: “We need support from the public in providing us with information we require to bring the perpetrators to justice and I would appeal to anyone who has information that could assist us to contact police at Strand Road on the non-emergency number 101.”

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