IRA Claims Killings of Two More British Soldiers
LONDON (AP) _ The Irish Republican Army on Saturday claimed responsibility for the shooting deaths of two British soldiers, striking less than a week after it killed two tourists in the Netherlands.
Gunmen of the group fighting British rule in Northern Ireland killed a British army major Saturday outside his home in Dortmund, West Germany, and wounded a police officer when they got away during a chase.
In the central English town of Lichfield, police hunted for two men who shot and killed a soldier and wounded two others waiting for a train Friday afternoon.
″While British troops remain in Ireland such attacks will continue,″ the IRA said in a statement distributed to news media in Dublin, Ireland.
On Sunday, IRA gunmen killed two London-based Australian lawyers in the town square in Roermond, the Netherlands. The IRA later said it had mistaken the men for soldiers.
″There is no argument or reason in this. It is simply that they are out to kill,″ Defense Secretary Tom King said Saturday in an interview with Press Association, the domestic news agency.
″They are out to cover the humiliation of their mistake in killing two young Australians in Holland,″ he said.
The attacks in the Netherlands, Germany and England continued an IRA strategy of attacking ″soft″ targets associated with the British army, such as off-duty soldiers or recruiting centers.
The IRA, a mainly Roman Catholic group, seeks to unite Ireland under a socialist government. It is outlawed both in the predominantly Catholic Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, a British province where paramilitary Protestant groups side with London.
Rolf Hannich, a spokesman for the West German federal prosecutor, said Maj. Michael John Dillon-Lee was shot several times in the head as he returned to his home in a British army housing area in Dortmund just after midnight.
″He had parked his car and gotten out when one of two persons in a Mazda car shot him,″ Hannich said, quoting a Dortmund police report. His wife was in the car but was not hurt.
The suspects’ silver Mazda was spotted a short time later in Dortmund and two police cars tried to stop it.
″Shots were fired from the Mazda at the police cars chasing it, and one policeman was hit in the foot,″ Hannich said. The car was later found abandoned in Hamm-Boenen, about 15 miles east of the murder scene.
It was the second IRA killing in less than a year in Dortmund, home to about 10,000 British soldiers. On Sept. 7, an IRA unit killed Heidi Hazell, 26, the German-born wife of a British soldier.
About five hours before the West German attack, two men with handguns shot the three soldiers at the Lichfield City rail station, about 100 miles northwest of London, then fled across the tracks.
The Ministry of Defense identified the dead man as 19-year-old Pvt. William Robert Davies of Pontarddulais, South Wales. The wounded men were Robert Parkin, 20, and Neil Evans, 19, the Ministry of Defense said.
The attacks followed a spate of reports last week that Peter Brooke, the top British official in Northern Ireland, was making progress toward arranging negotiations on a new political agreement for the province.
Brooke’s delicate initiative is intended to open negotiations between Protestant parties and the mainly Roman Catholic Social Democratic and Labor Party. Sinn Fein, the IRA political wing - which draws about a third of the Catholic vote in Northern Ireland - is excluded from the negotiations.
The IRA and other republican splinter groups fighting British rule have caused more than half of the nearly 2,800 deaths in Northern Ireland since the British army entered the province in 1969.
In addition, the IRA has killed at least 14 people in Europe and several dozen in England, including 21 in pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974 and 11 Marine bandsmen in Deal, Kent, in September.
Loyalist paramilitary groups associated with Protestants in Northern Ireland are responsible for about one-fourth of the deaths, while 12 percent are blamed on the police and army, according to a study published last year by Irish journalist Michael McKeown.