Gardaí fear that a simmering feud that started over a €70 drugs debt could lead to someone being murdered, the Herald can reveal.
The latest incident in the long-running dispute happened shortly after 7pm on Monday when a number of shots were fired at the front of a house in the Arden View estate in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
Senior sources said that a number of people, including children, were in the house at the time and the family were forced to flee to the back of the property.
The gunman was later seen running away from the scene after a window and door of the house were shot at.
Gardaí said that they are following a "definite line of enquiry" and are "in no doubt" that the shooting is linked to an ongoing midlands feud that involves a number of Traveller families.
"Gardaí are very confident of making an arrest in this case and this was a very serious incident," a senior source said.
Officers are also appealing for calm in the area and sources say that a large number of people are involved in the feud "including males and females, OAPs and even juveniles".
There have been a number of violent disorder incidents linked to the feud as well as previous shootings.
"The longer this goes on there is more of a chance of someone being killed - Monday night's gun attack was reckless in the extreme," the source said.
Earlier this year a number of people were issued with 'GIM' forms by officers, which is an official written warning given to a person who gardaí believe is in imminent danger.
The bitter feud in the Co Offaly town, which started over a €70 drugs debt, had been spiralling out of control earlier this year, but had been relatively calm for a couple of months.
"It started as a row over a €70 drugs debt, then there was slagging on social media which eventually led to an extremely violent incident earlier this year," the source said.
This incident cannot be outlined here for legal reasons.
Last week, three Brazilian men who are suspected of being hired by one of the Tullamore factions pleaded guilty to possession of a sub-machine gun, a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition in Co Offaly in May.
Tullamore Circuit Court heard that the men had the wrong ammunition for the sawn-off shotgun while a rusted automatic sub-machine gun seized was later tested by ballistics gardaí and jammed after discharging one round.
After being arrested, one of the Brazilian nationals told gardaí that they were planning to shoot at someone's house but "not to murder someone".
Evidence was also given of an address of significance being inputted into Google Maps on one of the men's phones and that one defendant who collected the firearms later got lost twice while en route to the scene.