The RUC Chief Constable has said that the killing of Martin O'Hagan carried the hallmark of the breakaway paramilitary group the Loyalist Volunteer Force. The 51-year-old Sunday World journalist was shot dead outside his home in Lurgan on Friday night.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan told the Sunday World that detectives believed it was a localised attack and they would be looking at all the key players within the ranks of the LVF. Mr O'Hagan, who pushed his wife to safety as the gunman fired at him, will be buried tomorrow.

Martin O'Hagan's fearless exposure in the Sunday World of paramilitaries, drug dealers and criminals cost him his life. He investigated allegations of collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces in the North. Other stories centred on the breakaway Loyalist Volunteer Force. He gave the name "King Rat" to their former leader Billy Wright. He was later murdered in the Maze prison.

Sunday World colleague Jim Campbell, who survived a gun attack by the UVF in 1984, said that police were investigating a recent threat to Mr O'Hagan apparently made by a leading LVF member. It was a threat from Billy Wright in 1993 that made Mr O'Hagan leave Belfast for a time to work in Dublin and Cork, but he returned two after the paramilitary ceasefires.

He is the second journalist from Independent News and Media group to be killed. Five years ago crime correspondent Veronica Guerin was shot dead in Dublin. Her mother said that she was shocked and saddened by the murder of another journalist, slain for exposing the truth.