A teenager shot in a paramilitary-style attack had recently been named on a list targeting almost 50 people.

The 17-year-old was shot three times in the legs in Downfine Gardens in west Belfast on Thursday night.

Police described it as “a brutal and horrific attack”.

A neighbour said: “The shooter led the teenager into the entryway before placing him against a wooden fence.

“Afterwards, grey and bloodied clothing was strewn against the wall as forensic officers began to mark the spent casings on the ground.

“This is the third shooting of a teenager in west Belfast from the summer of 2016.”

Security sources said the victim had been named on a list that had been circulating on social media. The list accused a number of named individuals of housebreaking, joyriding and drug dealing.

The latest victim was the last name posted online before it was removed after a police investigation.

West Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan led condemnation of the attack. “The shooting of a man last night was wrong and I condemn it,” he said.

“There can be no place for such incidents in our society.

“There can be no justification for such actions and I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to bring it forward to the police.”

Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit MLA for the area, said the shooting was opposed by the community. “Sadly this morning we have learned of yet another paramilitary style attack on a young person from west Belfast,” he said. “I completely condemn these actions; these shootings are futile and are opposed by the majority of this community.

“They do nothing to lift people out of poverty and social deprivation. Instead, they are about control and instilling fear.

“We need to invest in our young people. To provide services and opportunities, not blast them with guns in the middle of the night.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police received reports at 10.50pm that a male had been shot three times in the legs. While these injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, this was a brutal and horrific attack.

“It is yet another example of how criminal elements seek to control communities through fear and violence.”

Police urged anyone with information to contact Musgrave on 101 quoting reference 1450 of 13/07/17, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Annual crime statistics published by the PSNI in May showed a big increase in security-related deaths and casualties from paramilitary attacks.

In total there were 61 shooting incidents in 2016/17 compared to 36 the previous year. These resulted in 28 casualties – twice as many as the previous year.

Republican paramilitaries were blamed for 25 of these, with loyalists deemed responsible for the remaining three.

by adrian rutherford

Belfast Telegraph

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