Northern Ireland

Belfast husband and wife shot in legs 'protecting son'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBelfast shooting: Pat Sheehan condemns attack on 'respected couple'

A man and a woman, both in their 50s, have been shot in the legs at a house in west Belfast.

Police said a gang of masked and armed men entered the house on Norglen Parade, Turf Lodge, just after 18:15 GMT.

The victims, understood to be married couple, were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The BBC understands the couple were attempting to protect their son from paramilitaries.

Ch Insp Norman Haslett said: "This is a brutal, callous and horrific attack on a defenceless couple in their house, at tea-time on a Thursday evening and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

"The people who did this have no moral compass whatsoever."

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan, who visited the scene on Thursday night, said the couple were "shot in their own living room".

He described them as a "respected family within the community".

'Terrified'

"There is no way this family is involved in criminality of any sort and whatever the motivation was for this shooting, there is absolutely no justification for it," Mr Sheehan said.

"The people in this street are now terrified as a result of this shooting."

Image caption Police attended the scene of the shooting at a house in Norglen Parade on Thursday night

The Sinn Féin MLA added that "a number of people" had been taken to Turf Lodge and shot in the legs in separate paramilitary-style attacks over the past six to nine months but he said "this isn't that type of incident".

West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood, from the SDLP, described the gun attack as an "act of tyranny".

"The fact that a man and a woman and both in their 50s, have been injured confirms that no one is off limits to those who are now using the gun," he said.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The victims, believed to be a married couple, were said to be a stable condition in hospital

The Alliance party's justice spokesperson, Trevor Lunn, said: "There can be no justification for this type of attack and whoever was behind it needs to be condemned without equivocation."

Police have appealed for witnesses.

More on this story