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25 Civilians Injured in Mortar Attack

November 27, 1986

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Mortar shells aimed at a police station exploded in a crowded street in Newry on Thursday, wounding at least 25 people, police said.

At least one hit a house in the town on the Irish Republic border, trapping people in debris, said Sgt. Michael Glover, a police spokesman in Belfast. Rescuers were trying to dig them out.

The shells landed in a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood during the evening rush hour. Stores stay open late on Thursdays.

Four people, including a 4-year-old girl, suffered fairly severe head injuries, Glover said. They were taken to hospitals in Belfast, 30 miles north of Newry.

Seven people were hospitalized in Newry and th rest were released after treatment.

No group claimed responsibility for the shelling but suspicion fell on the outlawed Irish Republican Army, which has attacked the police station several times in its battle against British rule in Northern Ireland.

Mortar shells killed nine officers at the station in February 1985.

Glover said at least three shells were fired from a vehicle parked beside a canal 200 yards from the police station. The car blew up and police assumed the mortars were timed to fire after the attackers left.

The army cordoned off the area to search for unexploded shells.

Chief Superintendent Niall Howe of the police called mortars ″an indiscriminate and inaccurate weapon posing a grave danger to the population.″

On Monday, a mortar barrage fired across the border hit a security base in Middletown, 12 miles northwest of Newry, wounding five British soldiers.

IRA guerrillas have attacked border police and army installations three times in the past 10 days. It has warned contractors not to accept repair jobs and at least two who did have killed.

Update hourly