BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Gino Gallagher, a leading member of a Northern Ireland guerrilla group, was assassinated Tuesday.
Gallagher, 32, said to be chief of staff of the left-wing Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was shot at close range when he went to collect money at a welfare benefit office in western Belfast, a republican stronghold.
Belfast Police Commander Bill Stewart said detectives were investigating several possible motives. "There are strong indications that this is part of an internal INLA feud," he said.
But spokesman Kevin McQuillan of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the INLA's political wing, called reports of an internal dispute "rubbish."
Although he declined to say who he believes killed Gallagher, McQuillan told reporters at the party's Belfast office: "I think there are obviously those, including the British intelligence services, who were very concerned about the rising profile and influence of the [party] within nationalist working-class areas."
He said Protestant guerrillas denied responsibility.
Gallagher's slaying coincided with an urgent meeting Tuesday between Britain's Northern Ireland minister, Patrick Mayhew, and Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, political wing of the Irish Republican Army, seeking to revive the stalled peace process in the province.