UK & World News

  • 19 April 2014, 6:00

Former Belfast Leader Of Continuity IRA Killed

A prominent dissident republican in Belfast has been shot dead on an industrial estate in the city.

Tommy Crossan was attacked near the Peter Pan centre in Springfield Road, West Belfast, policesaid.

The road, one of the main arterial routes in the area, was closed to traffic.

Mr Crossan was reportedly the Continuity IRA's former leader and was believed to be the subject of a death threat from his former allies.

The organisation has opposed the peace process which largely ended three decades of violence and transformed the region.

Colin Keenan, a nationalist SDLP Belfast City councillor for the area, said: "A fatal shooting has taken place on a busy through way. The family have just arrived."

The attack happened close to a supermarket on an industrial estate.

The largely nationalist area of Belfast is mainly made up of tightly-packed terraced housing estates and businesses.

Mr Keenan said it was a horrific scene, with the dead man lying in the grounds of the industrial estate and exposed to view from surrounding residents.

Relatives at the scene are devastated and a priest was praying over the victim, he added.

The councillor added: "We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.

"Today's event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past."

The CIRA murdered Police Constable Stephen Carroll in Lurgan in Co Armagh in March 2009.

It has since been riven with splits.

Members of the security forces have been on high alert for attacks by various extremist factions who have also killed two soldiers and a prison officer.

In recent weeks they have stepped up efforts to kill police officers, with several attacks on the force in West Belfast.

After the murder of prison officer David Black on the M1 motorway in November 2012, police mounted an unprecedented surveillance operation against various factions as well making significant arrests.

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