Police believe that recent violence in Larne’s Antiville estate is “retaliation for activity by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force”.
Bricks, fireworks and a petrol bomb were thrown at the PSNI by a 40-strong mob at Linn Road last Wednesday night.
Forty-five wheelie bins were stolen from householders and set alight to form a burning barricade.
Mid and East Antrim police chief Superintendent Darrin Jones said:“My assessment is that this was orchestrated and carried out by a criminal gang coming under the badge of South East Antrim UDA.”
He said that a full investigation is now underway.
“Members of the public were in grave danger. At one stage a police Land Rover actually had to act as a buffer between the gang and a number of people in their cars.
“People were actually driving into a burning barricade. If someone had been seriously hurt, ambulance crews couldn’t have responded.
“The Linn Road is normally a quiet residential area and this is shocking, it’s so reckless to put people’s lives in danger.
“Police later recovered three claw hammers in the area as well as quantity of bricks that had been stockpiled and used as missiles.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said that a crew was forced to leave the area due to a “hostile crowd” but later returned to the scene and extinguished the fires.
The superintendent stated that Paramilitary Crime Task Force operations during the previous weekend had been “targeting all sorts of criminality” by members of the South East Antrim UDA.
He added: “I would urge the community in Larne to reject these people who caused such fear and distress to local residents, as well as wrecking and terrorising the area they live in. And I would also call on people of influence in the area to intervene.
“I want to reassure the people of Larne that we are taking what happened very seriously and are committed to bringing those responsible before the courts. Information can be provided on 0800 555 111 which is anonymous.”