THIS is the elite gardai carrying out dawn raids in the latest crackdown on Dublin gangs.
Heavily armed officers searched two houses today after the latest gun attack in the Sheriff Street Feud.
The home of feud victim Stephen Ledden, shot dead in 2006, was raided at 7am. Our exclusive pictures show gardai entering the property at Upper Oriel Street, 24 hours after shots were fired at the nearby home of slain hitman Stephen 'Madser' Byrne.
Today's operation was carried out as officers tried to stop further bloodshed in the dispute between rapist Christy Griffin's gang and a rival local faction.
The Sheriff Street feud re-erupted after shots were fired at the family home of 'Madser' Byrne, a hitman shot dead last July. The current occupants of the property are not believed to be involved in the feud.
A second house was also searched by detectives in the dawn raids.
The team of armed and disguised ERU members burst in the door of the Oriel Street Upper house shortly after 7am. The operation followed an incident in which shots were fired at 'Madser' Byrne's home on Sheriff Street at 4.30am yesterday. Byrne was shot dead last July yards from his home at Mariner's Port, close to Sheriff Street.
Early yesterday morning, two shots were fired at the front door of Madser Byrne's house in what gardai believe was an attack in the ongoing feud.
Gardai confirmed a number of houses were searched in the north inner city this morning "as part of an operation investigating criminal activity in the area".]
While no arrests have been made, arrests are expected in the near future.
In the first raid, the armed unit swooped on Ledden's house on Oriel Street Upper just after 7am.
Frightened neighbours told the Herald how they believed they were about to witness another gangland hit when they heard the screaming and shouting.
"God forgive them is all I can say. I thought another one was going to get it," said one neighbour through her tears. "I just heard all the banging and shouting and I thought the next thing I would hear would be gunshots," she wept.
"When will it end? When in the name of God will it end so we can live in peace," the woman pleaded.
The crack team, backed up by plain clothes and uniformed gardai, burst in the front door after surrounding the house, before searching it from top to bottom.
At least a dozen members of the ERU were involved in the operation.
Clad in kevlar armour and wearing helmets, they photographed the scene after searching the house.
In a second raid close to Byrne's house, armed detectives searched a house on Crinan Strand at around the same time. The current occupants of the property are also not believed to be involved in the feud.
Gardai spent at least half an hour searching an upstairs bedroom and one of the team also inspected the shattered glass in the door of Byrne's house nearby. Stephen Byrne's mother declined to make any comment on the attack on her family. There was a heavy garda presence in the Sheriff Street and Oriel Street area before dawn.
"You can't move for them, they're everywhere," one local resident said.
Today's searches followed a gun attack on 'Madser' Byrne's home, occupied by his mother and family, in an early morning attack yesterday.
A shotgun was fired twice at the door of the house at Mariner's Port in the early hours. Byrne's mother and other members of his family were asleep at the time and were not injured in the attack. Officers responded quickly to the attack and within minutes recovered a car, which they believed was used by the gunman in his getaway.
Shortly afterwards, they carried out a search of a house in the area.
Although the shotgun used in the attack has not yet been recovered, gardai said they were making significant progress with their enquiries and were pursuing a definite line.
They are satisfied that yesterday's attack is linked to the murder of Madser Byrne (32) in July.
Byrne was gunned down around the corner from his Mariner's Port home in the Sherrif Street area as part of the violent and deadly feud with members of a gang controlled by Christy Griffin, now jailed for the rape of the daughter of his former partner.
A year earlier, Byrne's brother David was killed in an attack while serving time in Mountjoy for car theft.
He had been attacked with a sock filled with batteries and died later in hospital. Gardai do not believe that his death is related to the feud.