Were Provos behind shooting incident in Gobnascale?

DISSIDENT republicans are claiming that the Provisional IRA was behind an incident when shots were fired in the Gobnascale area of Londonderry last month.

A gang of around 20 masked men appeared in the Waterside estate and chased off youths building a bonfire. Shots were also fired and a teenage girl was grabbed by the throat by one of the masked men.

The incident happened in the Campion Court area in early August, when locals reported seeing a number of men disembark from a white van before removing material from a bonfire near a local community centre.

The van was later abandoned and was the subject of a security alert in the area causing ten homes to be evacuated.

A15-year-old said at the time she had been left terrified by her ordeal.

"I was with some friends and we'd seen the van driving around the area and it was going pretty fast which was why we noticed it. When the men got out and we saw they were wearing masks my friends and I tried to run off but I have asthma and I couldn't run quickly enough," she said.

"One of the men grabbed me by the throat and had a gun in his hand. I couldn't breathe and it was really scary."

The girl's mother, who did not wish to be named, challenged the men when she found out what had happened.

"I called them cowards for threatening a young girl," she said.

"I told them I was going to phone the police and I told them they were nothing but bullies. One of the masked men then pointed a gun at me but two of the others pulled him back and a friend pulled me into the house for my own safety. The young people were terrified by what had happened and we wanted to make sure they were safe as well so my husband was trying to calm them down."

Local people claimed at the time that mainstream republicans had been identified after removing masks as police arrived.

Now a leaflet distributed in thousands of homes throughout Londonderry by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement suggests the Provisional IRA was behind the incident.

The leaflet is an attack on Sinn Fein, and in one section it says: "Following attempts by youth from the Gobnascale area to build a bonfire, a group of masked men were able to arm themselves and fire off shots to intimidate the youth to desist from building the bonfire. These individuals, members of a now supposedly defunct former resistance organisation have shown an uncanny ability to re-arm themselves when suits…"