Talks planned to calm loyalist tensions in Belfast

Tensions remain high in loyalist areas of north Belfast today amid an internal UDA dispute sparked by the expulsion of the organisation's local leadership last week.

Tensions remain high in loyalist areas of north Belfast today amid an internal UDA dispute sparked by the expulsion of the organisation's local leadership last week.

The loyalist paramilitary group's so-called Inner Council formally expelled brothers Ihab and Andre Shoukri last Friday and replaced them with a new interim leadership.

Around 80 supporters of the pair allegedly attacked the homes of rival UDA men on Friday night in response to the move.

On Saturday night, the organisation held a show of strength in the Shankill Road area attended by hundreds of people.

The Inner Council says it wants the dispute resolved peacefully and has already held talks with the PSNI and Protestant clergymen with a view to calming the situation.

Further talks are also planned for later today, but the UDA leadership has warned supporters of the Shoukris that it will respond if there are further attacks, prompting fears of another bloody loyalist feud.

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