Four killed in Belfast feud between Protestant gangs

A gunman shot to death a Protestant as he arrived for work in what police and politicians said was the fourth killing in a feud between two outlawed Protestant gangs.

Police said Mick Green was shot several times at close range in Sandy Row, a hard-line Protestant neighborhood in south-central Belfast. The gunman targeted Green as he got off his motorcycle to open the furniture store where he worked.

Authorities have blamed the Ulster Volunteer Force for all four killings in its month-long feud with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Both groups bill themselves as underground armies that defend Protestant areas from outside threats, but in practice they devote their time to running criminal rackets and getting into conflict with each other. In the latest feud, the UVF has been seeking to force supporters of the LVF completely out of Belfast.

All four of Northern Ireland's outlawed Protestant groups are supposed to be observing cease-fires in support of the 1998 peace accord for this British territory - but all are prone to inter-gang feuding. Belfast has suffered five such bloody feuds since 2000, when hundreds of convicted Protestant extremists were freed from prison as part of the 1998 deal.

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