Two Catholics Killed In Suspected Protestant Revenge
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Gunmen firing from a car shot and killed two Roman Catholics on Monday in a suspected revenge slaying by Protestants for a new round of Irish Republican Army attacks.
The gunmen escaped after the killings in the Catholic Ardoyne area of north Belfast and abandoned their car in the Protestant Shankill district, about two miles away, police said.
Police sources and moderate Catholic leaders blamed the attack on Protestant extremists taking random revenge for a series of IRA bombings and shootings in Northern Ireland, Britain and West Germany, which left six dead and 37 injured last week.
Witnesses said the assailants pumped bullets from a machine gun into Seamus Morris, who was standing with friends on a street corner. The killers sped off into a side road as the 17-year-old fell dying from head and stomach wounds, the witnesses said.
In the side street, the car was confronted by a Guinness truck delivering beer to a club. The gunmen fired a burst through the windscreen, hitting the driver’s assistant in the head and chest, witnesses said.
The wounded man was rushed to north Belfast’s Mater Hospital, where he died 30 minutes later, hospital authorities said. The youth was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
″It is clear that loyalist (Protestant) gunmen think they can retaliate on innocent workers for the cold-blooded murders of last week,″ said Brian Feeney, a local councilor of the main moderate Catholic party, the Social Democratic and Labor Party.
Sinn Fein, political front of the outlawed IRA, also blamed Protestant gunmen, but said the attack was not in revenge for the IRA’s latest campaign of violence against British rule.
″There is no logic behind the retaliation theory,″ said Gerry McGuigan, Sinn Fein councilor for Ardoyne.
Police sources said suspicion fell on the Ulster Volunteer Force which, like the mainly Catholic IRA, is an outlawed guerrilla movement. It was the first attack for more than a month by Protestant extremists.
The killings, in broad daylight in a shopping district, took place as police chiefs and Protestant political leaders met to try to devise new security measures against the IRA.
The IRA, preparing for next year’s 20th anniversary of the deployment of British troops to stop sectarian feuding, has said its new campaign is aimed at British military targets.
Last week’s attacks included bombing British army barracks in London and West Germany, killing two elderly Protestants on temporary maintenance work at a police station, and dragging a part-time soldier from a store and killing him in front of his family.
Also on Monday, a British soldier, Cpl. Alex Bannister, 21, who was shot and wounded in Catholic West Belfast three weeks ago, died of his injuries, the Defense Ministry said.
The three deaths brought to 1,840 the number of people killed violently in Northern Ireland since sectarian violence flared in 1969 and Britain sent in troops.
The IRA is fighting a bomb-and-bullet campaign to end British rule and unite the Protestant dominated province with the Catholic Republic of Ireland under a leftist administration. The IRA is banned on both sides of the border.