Man Shot and Killed in Belfast; IRA Claims Responsibility
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Two gunmen fatally wounded a man several yards from a primary school in north Belfast today, and the Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack.
The IRA statement to Belfast news media claimed the victim was a top member of an unidentified Protestant paramilitary group.
The man was walking along a park in the mixed Protestant-Roman Catholic area when he was shot repeatedly in the head and chest and collapsed in the street, the Royal Ulster Constabulary said.
He was not immediately identified.
″He was lying face down on the pavement, which was covered in blood. I could feel a weak pulse, and then it faded away before the ambulance arrived,″ said Maeve Boyle, a nurse who rushed to the victim’s aid.
Alban McGuinness, a Belfast city councilman representing the Social Democratic and Labor Party, the province’s main Catholic party, said:
″The fact that the shooting appears to have been carried out before the horrified gaze of young children going to school speaks volumes for the sick mentality of the murderers.″
Twenty years of violence have claimed 2,758 lives in Northern Ireland, 47 of them this year.
The chief constable of the Royal Ulster force, meanwhile, dismissed as ″nonsense″ a claim that a secret conspiracy existed inside his force to counter government policies that are objectionable to the province’s Protestant majority.
Hugh Annesley said in a statement Tuesday night that since he took office in June, all officers of the 13,000-member force ″have given me their unqualified loyalty and support.″
He was reacting to a Belfast newspaper report that its deputy editor talked with a man identifying himself as spokesman for ″the Inner Circle,″ an alleged secret society inside the constabulary.
The paper, the Irish News, said the unidentified man displayed secret lists of Irish Republican Army suspects which could only have come from intelligence agencies.
The paper said the ″Inner Circle″ claimed to be dedicated to ″the removal″ of IRA suspects and the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, which went over the heads of Protestants to give the Irish Republic a say in the running of Northern Ireland.
Annesley said that despite his skepticism, he had asked for the claim to be investigated by English detectives who have been called in to conduct an independent inquiry into a series of recent leaks of intelligence documents.
The almost exclusively Catholic IRA is fighting to push the British out of Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland, join it with the Republic of Ireland and set up an all-Ireland socialist state.