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Four Soldiers Wounded In Renewed Violence

June 18, 1988

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ A homemade grenade wounded four British soldiers as scattered violence flared early today in Northern Ireland.

Police said the grenade exploded after hitting a military vehicle traveling in a joint army-police patrol in Strabane, on the province’s western border.

Four soldiers were taken to a hospital, but all were released after treatment.

An unidentified man later was arrested after three devices similar to the so-called drogue grenades were found in a nearby house, police said. Drogue grenades are homemade bombs designed to penetrate the security forces’ armored vehicles.

In northern Belfast, rival gangs fought street battles with rocks and gasoline bombs through the early hours, and clashed with police who moved in to break up the disturbance. Police arrested two people, but no injuries were reported.

In the western sector of Belfast, soldiers fired plastic bullets to disperse an attacking crowd of Irish nationalists, police said.

The trouble followed an Irish Republican Army bombing Wednesday night that killed six British soldiers after a charity footrace in Lisburn, seven miles outside Belfast.

British and Irish security forces were searching for the IRA cache of devastating Czechoslovak explosive used in the attack.

Security officials said the outlawed group used high-powered Semtex plastic explosive - made in Czechoslovakia and smuggled from Libya - in the 7-pound bomb to blow up the off-duty soldiers in their military van.

In London, meanwhile, two men from Northern Ireland were convicted Friday of plotting an Irish Republican Army bombing campaign in England.

Patrick McLaughlin and Liam McCotter are to be sentenced Monday and could receive terms of up to life in prison.

They were arrested by agents of the Anti-Terrorist Squad in February 1987 after nearly 200 pounds of explosives along with detonators, timing devices, three rifles and ammunition were found.

McLaughlin, 40, and McCotter, 25, both from Belfast, were found were with arms caches sufficient for a ″sustained and prolonged″ terror campaign with at least 25 bombs, officials said.

In the Netherlands, Dutch police stymied by the lack of any solid lead have given up any hope of finding the IRA killers that shot and bombed three British servicemen last month.

In the weeks since the May 1 attacks, hundreds of witnesses were interviewed, according to Dutch Natioanl Police spokesman Harry Clabbers.

″We plowed our way through just about the whole lot but simply got nowhere,″ Clabbers told The Associated Press.

In last month’s Dutch attacks, an IRA car bomb exploded under the car of three Royal Air Force soldiers in the town of Nieuw Bergen, 43 miles north of here.

The bomb killed two soldiers and injured the third.

About an hour later, an IRA gunman opened fire on a car with three other British servicemen in this southern Dutch city, killing one and injuring two.

The IRA is fighting to oust the British from Northern Ireland and unite the Protestant-dominated province with the mainly Roman Catholic Irish Republic to the south.

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