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Bomb Explodes Outside Hotel, Another At Gas Station

August 19, 1988

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ The IRA said it set two bombs that damaged Northern Ireland’s newest luxury hotel and injured three police officers at a gas station today.

The bombs exploded hours before the funeral of Regimental Sgt. Maj. Michael Heakin, 38, who was killed by IRA gunmen in the Belgian port of Ostend a week ago as his car stopped for a traffic light.

More than 1,000 mourners at the parish church of St. Edward in the Welsh town of Knighton heard his cousin, the Rev. Leo Heakin, pray that ″the forces of evil and terrorism will never ever have the last word in our world and that peace and justice will prevail.″

The outlawed Irish Republican Army, which is fighting to end British rule in the Protestant-dominated province and unite it with the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish Republic, claimed responsibility for the bombings in a coded message to a Belfast radio station.

Staff and guests were evacuated from the Mourne Country Hotel in Newry after three warning calls to a Newry hospital and the Samaritans just before 2:30 a.m., police said.

Minutes later, a car bomb exploded outside, causing extensive damage to the hotel’s kitchen area, said a spokesman for the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the province’s police force.

Police said it was not known how many people had been in the hotel, which is near the border with the Irish Republic. They said there were no injuries.

At 1 a.m., police said a bomb exploded as three police officers were investigating a ringing burglar alarm at a gas station in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh. A policewoman lost an eye and two policemen suffered minor cuts to the face, the spokesman said.

On Thursday, two masked gunmen shot and killed a Roman Catholic workman renovating a house in Belfast, and British army experts defused a parcel bomb sent to a leading Protestant politician.

Police said gunmen walked into the house on Cliftonville Road, and shot Michael Laverty, 32, in the head and chest.

The parcel bomb, sent to Ken Maginnis, security spokesman for the largest Protestant party in the province, the Official Unionists, was the second this month to be sent to a member of Parliament representing Northern Ireland.

Maginnis said he called the bomb disposal squad after he became suspicious about the package that arrived at his home in Dungannon, County Tyrone, 40 miles west of Belfast.

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