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Detectives investigating the intimidation of four Catholic families in Belfast have arrested two men.

The suspects, aged 37 and 40, were detained on suspicion of being members of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Last week, Northern Ireland's police chief blamed the East Belfast UVF for issuing threats to the families living in a cross-community housing development in the south-east of the city.

George Hamilton said the East Belfast UVF was behind the intimidation of the families in the Cantrell Close neighbourhood. He said police were not sure whether the threats were supported by the leadership of the criminal organisation, or were made by individual members.

Cantrell Close, off the Ravenhill Road, was supposed to be a flagship cross-community development as part of the Stormont Executive's Together Building United Communities programme.

On Monday morning, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Chief Inspector Gary Reid said: "Detectives from Criminal Investigation Branch have today arrested two men in East Belfast under the Terrorism Act on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation, namely the UVF.

"The men, aged 37 and 40, have been taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite (in Belfast) where they are currently helping police with their inquiries.

"Police are continuing to investigate the intimidation of families in Cantrell Close and the Chief Constable has recently said he believes the UVF are responsible for this.

"Today's arrests are part of our ongoing investigation into the UVF in East Belfast, including the intimidation of families in Cantrell Close."

Following the intimidation of the Catholic families, two Protestant community workers living nearby, both pensioners, were also threatened.

Last week, Mr Hamilton said it was too early in the investigation to say whether dissident republicans were to blame.

AP


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