AN UNNAMED paramilitary organisation has issued a chilling threat to kill drug dealers in Omagh.
Six local men have been placed under immediate threat by the group, which issued a statement to the Ulster Herald on Tuesday.
The statement was accompanied by an image of three balaclava clad men in military fatigues photographed behind a table bearing a shotgun, handgun and ammunition.
The group has warned it is willing to go to “extreme lengths” to stop drug dealing in the local area, including resorting to “knee capping and executions if necessary”.
Six people with ties to the Omagh area have been visited by the PSNI since Tuesday to warn of the immediate threat placed against their lives.
The sinister message comes in the wake of the latest death linked to the use of drugs in Omagh.
Emma Doogan (19) died on August 20 following a suspected drug overdose at a flat in the Strathroy area of Omagh.
The death was the third linked to drugs in the same block of flats in the past 18 months.
While no paramilitary group has taken responsibility for the new threat, dissident republicans are suspected.
The warning comes less than three weeks after the death of Strabane man Kevin Murray, a leading figure in Republican Action Against Drugs, which claimed to target drug dealers in North Tyrone and Derry.
The image circulated this week bears similar characteristics to the images distributed to the media in Strabane by RAAD during the height of its campaign.
In the statement to the Herald, the group said, “We are an organisation taking action against all drug dealers. At this point we are not willing to disclose the organisation we are acting on behalf but we are taking it upon ourselves to put an end to the drug dealing within our community.
“The drugs that are in circulation are destroying young peoples lives and are the ruination of our community.
“In order to stop this we are willing to go to extreme lengths such as integrations (sic), knee capping and executions if necessary.”
The threat has been strongly condemned by Strathroy Sinn Féin councillor Marty McColgan.
“I wish to restate my sympathy for the young girl who died and her family, but threats like this aren’t the answer to serious drug problems.
“There’s no place in society for self appointed vigilante gangs. Many of these gangs have been involved in extorting drug dealers and other forms of criminality,” he said.
“The criminal justice system is the only place for drug dealers and gangs. I would urge anyone with information to bring it forward.”
Cllr McColgan said community leaders in Strathroy would continue to work to educate young people and highlight the dangers of drugs.
“The only way to defeat these things is by communities standing and working together,” he said.