THE Official IRA is being blamed for murdering a west Belfast man over a botched punishment shooting on Friday.
Father-of-one Edward Gibson was shot in the leg and stomach by a number of men in an entry off the Falls Road.
Police had ruled out the shooting being the work of violent dissident republicans such Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH).
Now it is reported that the on-ceasefire group the Official IRA – known locally as ‘The Stickies’ – shot Mr Gibson during a punishment attack.
It is alleged that OIRA had accused him of being involved in a rape, claims rubbished by his family and those who knew him.
The petty criminal was rushed to the nearby Royal Victoria Hospital hospital following the shooting where it is claimed he was attacked again his assailants.
Three people – a 31-year-old woman, and two men aged 33 and 30 – were arrested in the aftermath of the shooting are still being questioned.
The 30-year-old man arrested had been treated in hospital for stab wounds thought to have been sustained in an earlier fight.
Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch, confirmed at a media facility yesterday: “Following the shooting on Friday evening in Clonfadden Crescent in the Divis area that Edward Gibson, a 28 year old man from West Belfast has died from his injuries.
“Detectives from Serious Crime Branch have commenced an investigation and I can confirm that approximately at 5 pm Friday evening (24th October) a number of shots were reported in the area of Clonfadden Crescent and Divis Court.
“Edward was taken to hospital but unfortunately died from the injuries he sustained.
“We are linking an incident which occurred in Albert Street approximately half an hour before the shooting, where we believe an altercation involving a number of males has taken place.
“My appeal today is to people who were in the laneway in Divis Tower at 5 pm and who saw the shooting or heard the shots to come forward and speak to detectives.
“I am also appealing to anyone in the Albert Street area at 4.30 pm who witnessed the altercation to come forward and I am making a particular appeal to Edward’s friends and associates to come forward and speak to Detectives and provide us with the information we need to identify and bring the persons responsible before the courts.
“Detectives can be contacted at Musgrave on 101 or alternatively information can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111”.