Protestant Group Kills Four Catholics in Northern Ireland
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ An outlawed Protestant paramilitary group claimed responsibility Monday for shooting and killing four Roman Catholic men and seriously wounded a fifth at a village pub in Northern Ireland.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary said two men were being questioned about the Sunday night attack in Cappagh, 50 miles west of Belfast.
In other incidents, gumen killed a Roman Catholic taxi driver in Belfast late Monday, and a British solider died of injuries from an Irish Republican Army rocket attack last week, police said.
Police identified the dead in the pub attack as John Quinn, 23; Dwayne O’Donnell, 17; Thomas Armstrong, 52; and Malcolm Nugent, 21. Malachy Rafferty, 2l, was wounded and was reported in serious condition at Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
The Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement reported by Press Association, the British news agency.
″This was not a sectarian attack on the Catholic community, but was an operation directed at the very roots of the Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army) command structure in the Armagh-Tyrone area,″ the group said.
Local residents said they suspect police or troops were involved in the attack, a claim rejected by the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Police confirmed, however, that a rifle muzzle cover similar to those used by soldiers to protect their weapons was recovered from the scene of the shooting and was under forensic examination.
Witnesses said the gunmen opened fire as the four young men drove up to Boyle’s pub at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
Witnesses said two men were killed in the car and a third was killed as he tried to escape.
One witness told the British Broadcasting Corp., ″One of the men in the car, a cousin of mine, attempted obviously to escape by jumping over a wall, however he was fatally wounded.
″Another man inside the bar ran for cover to the toilet and one of the gunmen went up and put the gun in through the toilet window and sprayed the inside of the toilet,″ killing Armstrong.
″Loyalist″ paramilitary groups rooted in Northern Ireland’s majority Protestant community have generally attacked people they claim are members of the IRA or other groups opposed to British rule.
The IRA’s military campaign is supported by a minority of Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland.
In Belfast, an Royal Ulster Constabulary spokesman said taxi driver Michael Lenighan, 49, was killed by two passengers who opened fire and fled on foot. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, but the Press Association said ″loyalist″ gunmen shot Lenighan.
Also late Monday, a British solider died at Royal Victoria Hospital from injuries suffered when the IRA launched a rocket at an army vehicle, said an RUC spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The name of the soldier was not immediately released.
Another soldier died instantly in the attack near Armagh, 35 miles southwest of Belfast. The two other soldiers in the vechicle remained hospitalized in serious condition, the spokesman said.
The IRA has attacked police and army units in its effort to end British rule in the province, and it has killed people it claims were Protestant paramilitaries, informers or collaborators with British rule.
In 1990, the various ″loyalist″ groups were responsible for 19 of the 76 deaths attributed to sectarian and political violence in the province.