Up to six armed gardaí are on permanent patrol at one of the country's busiest hospitals amid fears of a bloodbath after a 42-year-old man was stabbed 11 times by an associate.
In the shocking incident, an innocent 40-year-old woman was also knifed and the 39-year-old suspect for stabbing the other man also suffered stab wounds.
The mayhem broke out in a house at Crozon Park in Sligo town shortly after midnight on Sunday. The 42-year-old who suffered multiple stab wounds was knifed in the back, neck and right arm. His alleged attacker was arrested at the scene and brought to Ballymote Garda Station, but was then released from custody when it became apparent that he had suffered stab injuries as well.
He was brought to Sligo University Hospital by armed gardaí where he and his alleged victim were still being treated last night.
It's understood that after attending the scene, one investigating garda conducted CPR on one of the injured parties before an ambulance arrived.
"This was a scene of absolute mayhem. There could easily have been multiple homicides here," a source said last night.
Officers remain on high alert over fears that either man may be attacked in retaliation.
The two injured men are members of the local Traveller community.
The knife used in the attack has been sent for forensic analysis. Gardaí believe the incident happened after the two men consumed a large quantity of poitín. Up to six gardaí are on patrol at the hospital at any one time for fear of reprisals.
"Both men have a number of associates living both in Ireland and the UK and the concern is that there could be further trouble," a source explained.
Gardaí believe the team of officers who attended the incident had their safety jeopardised because of the lack of an armed response unit in Sligo. The nearest armed response unit is based in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, more than 42km away.
"The fact of the matter is, we don't have the resources a town the size of Sligo needs," a source said.
The two men are expected to be questioned on their release. Gardaí are very concerned about an ongoing feud between Traveller gangs in the North West and have been forced to attend a number of incidents in recent months.
But there is particular concern that this incident could lead to further violence, sources say.
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