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IRA Threatens To Kill More British Servicemen With PM-Netherlands-IRA, Bjt

May 2, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ The government will consider whether servicemen should continue using special British license plates following the Irish Republican Army’s slaying of three airmen in the Netherlands, a minister said today.

The IRA has threatened to kill more British servicemen following Sunday’s attacks in which three airmen also were injured.

The six servicemen were traveling in two cars with special license plates. One car was sprayed with machine-gun fire. The other was destoyed by a bomb.

Several British lawmakers have criticized the license plates as a ″giveaway″ to terrorists.

Armed Forces Minister Ian Stewart was asked in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview whether their continued use would be looked at as part of the security review promised on Sunday by Defense Secretary George Younger.

″Yes, it certainly will,″ he said. ″There are a number of aspects we want to look into and that is certainly one of them. We will want to draw any possible lessons from these attacks.″

Stewart said the government would look into anything it could do ″to tighten up the security or increase the potential safety of our lads.″

The six servicemen, visiting the Netherlands from their bases in West Germany, were unarmed and off duty when attacked, British officials said.

On Sunday and today, the British Forces Broadcasting Service aired warnings to soldiers and airmen who were away from their bases in West Germany: ″Terrorists only look at you for one reason. Be alert. Stay alive.″

The three men killed were identified by the British Defense Ministry as Ian Shinner, 20, who was machine-gunned in Roermond, and John Miller Reid, 22, and John Baxter, 21, who were blown up in their car in Nieuwbergen.

All three were senior airmen in the Royal Air Force Regiment which guards air bases. They were visiting Dutch discotheques and bars just across the border which stay open later than German ones.

The three airmen were believed to be the first British military fatalities caused by the IRA on the European continent. There had been attacks on British bases but no deaths. Sunday’s killings also ended a 14-month lull in IRA attacks outside Northern Ireland.

The IRA claimed responsibility for the deaths with a statement through the Irish Republican Publicity Bureau in Dublin, saying it had a ″simple message″ for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher:

″Disengage from Ireland and there will be peace. If not, then there will be no haven for your military personnel and you will regularly be at airports awaiting your dead.″

The message referred to Mrs. Thatcher’s much publicized visit to Northolt Royal Air Force base in England on March 23 for the return of the bodies of two British soldiers lynched in Belfast by mourners at an IRA funeral which they had driven into.

The killings were seen as retaliation for the March 6 shootings by British security forces of three unarmed IRA members in Gibraltar on March 6. The army said the guerrillas were preparing to bomb an army parade.

The British armed forces have nearly 70,000 personnel and 80,000 dependants stationed in West Germany at four RAF and five army bases.

Since launching its violent campaign to end British rule in Northern Ireland in 1969, the IRA has killed 392 British soldiers there and 24 in mainland Britain.

The known death toll in Northern Ireland is 2,642, according to Belfast police. It includes 253 police officers, 174 militia of the British-trained Ulster Defense Regiment and 1,823 civilians.

The IRA has a network of support in The Netherlands, Belgium and West Germany. In 1986, Dutch police arrested two major IRA figures who were involved in a 1983 escape from Belfast’s Maze prison and had spent several years in the Netherlands.

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