The RUC are investigating an explosion outside a bar in County Antrim last night. The blast occurred outside a Bar on the Ballyganniff Road near Crumlin - a rural area outside Belfast.

McKenna's Bar has been described as a quiet rural bar beside the shores of Lough Neagh that attracts both Catholic and Protestant customers. Around twelve people were inside when it was attacked at 10.20pm last night. It's thought a device went off at the front of the building, causing minor damage to some windows.

Two loyalist paramilitary groups have separately claimed responsibility for last night's attack. In a call to a local radio station using a recognised code word the Red Hand Defenders said they were responsible.

They said a grenade was thrown at the bar and warned of further attacks. In a separate call to a TV newsroom, the recently emerged Orange Volunteers said the blast was an attempt to kill a senior IRA member from South Antrim.

Martin Meehan of Sinn Féin claimed the attack was carried out by loyalists who were intent on killing innocent people out enjoying a Christmas drink. He said it was clearly well organised and planned, which suggested those who carried it out had previously engaged in such activity in one of the other loyalist paramilitary groups.

He said it seemed the Orange Volunteers, which many saw as yet another flag of convenience, were intent on continuing their sectarian killing campaign. He urged nationalists in Crumlin and elsewhere to be vigilant in the days and weeks ahead. Nearly 25 years ago the same pub was targetted by loyalists and one person was killed.