IRA Bomb Attacks Leave Six Dead, One Missing
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Simultaneous bomb attacks at two security checkpoints in Northern Ireland today killed six soldiers and left a civilian missing and presumed dead, police said. The IRA claimed responsibility.
Five men were arrested in the Irish Republic in connection with the predawn attacks, which also injured at least 27 people, six seriously, police said.
Authorities said there was also a third bombing attempt, but the device failed to detonate.
Police said in the two explosions, the bombs were driven to the checkpoints by civilians acting under Irish Republican Army threat. One of the drivers, an elderly man, warned the soldiers at a checkpoint, but not in time.
The IRA claimed those forced to drive the bombs to the checkpoints were ″collaborators,″ who had done construction work for the security forces.
A police spokesman in Dublin said the five men were arrested just across the border from the checkpoint near Londonderry, 65 miles northwest of Belfast, where five of the soldiers were killed and the civilian was reported missing.
The other soldier was killed at a security checkpoint in Newry, a village about 40 miles south of Belfast, police said.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was said to be ″deeply shocked″ by the bombings.
Hospital officials said the injured included six members of the security forces, all of them seriously hurt.
The failed attack targeted an army camp at Omagh, 55 miles west of Belfast. In it, a man was forced to drive a 200-pound bomb to the site while his family was held hostage. The driver was starpped to the car seat to prevent him from escaping, but the bomb did not go off, police said.
The checkpoints where the bombs did go off are on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The Newry station is located on the main road between Belfast and Dublin. Both posts have been attacked by the IRA several times in the past.
The missing civilian at Londonderry was believed to be the driver of a car carrying a bomb, police said.
At the Newry checkpoint, police said, a 65-year-old man drove up in a van, jumped out and shouted: ″There’s a bomb in the van 3/8″
It exploded before police, soldiers and the driver had time to get clear. The driver suffered a broken leg.
Police said both bombs exploded just after 4 a.m.
The IRA claim of responsibility came in a statement to the British domestic statement to the British domestic news agency Press Association in Belfast. It warned that attacks would continue until Britain abandoned its ″futile war in Ireland.″
The mainly Roman Catholic IRA wants to unite the predominantly Protestant province with the overwhelmingly Catholic Republic of Ireland under socialist rule.
In Dublin, the Republic of Ireland condemned the killings.
″The people who carried out these savage murders stand condemned by the overwhelming majority of people on this Island,″ said Prime Minister Charles Haughey. ″Their actions are futile and serve no purpose other than to bring suffering and tragedy in their wake.″
Soldiers blanketed Newry and the surrounding area in a huge security operation following the attack. Army helicopters flew low overhead and traffic headed for Dublin was diverted.
Paddy Collins and his wife, Cara, were awakened by the blast, which shattered windows and blew the doors off hinges at their home about 1,200 feet from the checkpoint.
″There was an awful bang and blue lightening outside. All the windows came in,″ he said, adding that three of the couple’s four children were asleep in the house and were covered with shattered glass.
″We were afraid to go out, but we heard soldiers running outside, literally screaming. They were frightened for their lives,″ said Collins.