Police in the North are investigating a possible drugs link to last night's gun attack in County Down in which a man was shot dead.

Matthew Burns, who was in his twenties and the father of a young child, was murdered as he travelled with his brother along the Burrenbridge Road in Castlewellan.

A number of gunmen approached the white Toyota Camry car and fired at point blank range, killing Mr Burns instantly. His brother was hit in the chest and arm. Patrick Burns is being treated at the Down Hospital this morning.

The deceased man was previously targeted by Republicans when a blast bomb was placed on the roof of his car in nearby Newcastle last year.

The PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Stephen White, described the murder as a ruthless, cold-blooded and vicious attack.

A SDLP MLA for Castlewellan blamed Republicans for the killing. Eamon O'Neill accused them of taking the law into their own hands and acting as judge, jury and executioner.