BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Protestant extremists raked a crowded betting shop with gunfire Wednesday, killing five people and wounding nine others in what they called revenge for IRA violence.
The attack on the Roman Catholic gamblers raised the number of dead in political and sectarian violence to 12 this week, one of the grimmest in the province in years.
The Ulster Freedom Fighters, a Protestant group that targets Catholics, said it mounted the attack in what it called "one of the IRA's most active areas." "Remember Teebane," the group's statement said, referring to an Irish Republican Army bombing Jan. 17 that killed eight Protestant laborers.
In Wednesday's attack, two men walked into the Belfast betting shop about 2:20 p.m. and opened fire with an assault rifle and handgun before fleeing.
"It was like a butcher's shop in there," said one survivor, who was wounded in the leg. "There was blood everywhere. The place was absolutely riddled with bullets. People were diving for cover but they just couldn't get out of the way. Nobody stood a chance."
Most of the dead were elderly Catholics.