Northern Ireland

West Belfast: Shooting of boy, 16, was 'child abuse'

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Media captionChief Superintendent Chris Noble says attack on 16-year-old is 'child abuse'

A gun attack on a boy in west Belfast was "child abuse," a senior police officer has said.

The 16-year-old was shot in the leg on Thursday and is in a stable condition in hospital.

It happened at Forest Street, off the Springfield Road, at about 20:50 GMT.

"Any civilised society would see that for what it is - child abuse. It is most definitely not policing or community safety activity," Chief Supt Chris Noble said.

The incident follows a man being shot in the legs on Wednesday night close to the jobs and benefits office on the Falls Road in west Belfast.

He said it was too early to say if the shootings were linked.

"There is an active line of inquiry around the involvement of violent dissident republicans," he said.

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Media captionA neighbour describes the scene

"I would not want to speculate on exactly why individuals were targeted but there is never any justification for this violent, abusive behaviour."

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Image caption PSNI officers at the scene of the second shooting in west Belfast in less than 48 hours
Image caption The shooting happened at Forest Street off the Springfield Road

One resident, who lives close to the scene of the latest shooting, said he thought the noise from the gun attack had come from the television.

"When we came out the lad was lying at the other side of the street," he added.

Image caption A PSNI forensic team has been examining the area

"Some of the neighbours got the ambulance and that was it.

"Most people are disgusted with it, they don't want to see it."

That victim is also said to be in a stable condition.

Image caption A man was taken to hospital following the shooting

The shooting was condemned by Secretary of State James Brokenshire, who said it was a "brutal and shocking attack on a child by abusive criminals"!.

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