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Firebombs Explode In Two Stores In Pre-Christmas Campaign

December 21, 1991

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Firebombs exploded at two stores in Northern Ireland early today, apparently as part of an IRA pre-Christmas terrorist campaign against economic targets. There were no injuries.

Gunmen also shot and killed a teen-ager in his father’s hardware store in Moy, County Tyrone. Police said one man was arrested and a gun was recovered.

Local media reported that last month, the IRA planted a bomb under a van owned by the victim’s father, a Protestant businessman and former reservist in the province’s police force.

No group claimed responsibility for either the shooting or the bombings. However, the outlawed Irish Republican Army has claimed previous bombings as part of its campaign to disrupt daily life until British troops are withdrawn from Northern Ireland.

The first incendiary device exploded at a Woolworth store in central Belfast, starting a small fire that staff extinguished, police said.

The second went off in a Wisebyes discount store in Ballymena, County Antrim, said a police spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. A third device was defused earlier in Ballymena.

Police said damage to the stores was slight, and both were open for business later in the day.

More than 160 incendiary bombs have exploded in Northern Ireland stores this year, causing millions of dollars worth of damage, and about 100 others have been defused, the spokesman said.

The bombing campaign has intensified both in Northern Ireland and on the British mainland in the busy shopping period before Christmas.

Traditionally, the IRA has attacked police and army units in its effort to end British rule in the province. It seeks to unite the mainly Protestant province with the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish Republic.

In the Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, police said two masked gunmen shot and killed Patrick McDonald, 41, on Friday night in the Dublin beauty salon where he worked.

McDonald, who was from Newry in Northern Ireland, was released from prison in 1989 after serving a long sentence for firearms offenses in the Irish Republic.

Irish media reported he had links in the past with two outlawed terrorist organizations, the Irish Peoples’ Liberation Organization and the Irish National Liberation Army. Both are offshoots of the Irish Republican Army.

Earlier this week, the IRA ordered the Irish Peoples’ Liberation Organization to disband within 72 hours or face the consequences after it claimed responsibility for mistakenly killing a man in Belfast.

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