Monday, March 09, 2009

Republican Gunmen Strike Again in Northern Ireland

-- From Wikinews - Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A policeman has been killed in County Armagh, Northern Ireland by gunmen a mere 48 hours after two soldiers were killed.

In what is presumed to be the work of dissident Republicans hoping to derail the peace process, the police officer was shot in the head before 10:00 p.m. on March 9.

The officer, described as an experienced veteran with 20 years of service, was responding to a call for help from a female member of the public in the Lismore area of Craigavon when he was shot. A two vehicle patrol was sent to the incident given previous trouble in the area, with the members of one vehicle dealing with the incident and those of the second vehicle providing cover, it was the members of the vehicle providing cover that was attacked.

The PSNI, believe that the officer was hit by long range gun fire from a shooter secreted in the Republican stronghold of the Drumbeg estate. There are unconfirmed reports that a second officer has also been injured.

The shooting led to a call for unity and calm from a broad spectrum of the community ranging from spokesmen for the Ulster Volunteer Force, who called for the gunmen to be dealt with through the courts.

This is the first death of a police officer to sectarian violence in over a decade, and comes after a nine month period in which intelligence indicated that dissidents were aiming to kill a policeman.

Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Sir Hugh Orde has appealed for the community to help police bring those responsible to justice.

Sir Hugh said: “Shortly before 10pm officers in Craigavon were going about their duty, serving the public of Northern Ireland, answering a call for help. Sadly one of those officers paid the ultimate price when cowards and criminals gunned him down. I pay tribute to him and send my deepest sympathy to his family.

"His death comes some 48 hours after a similar attack in Antrim that saw two young soldiers murdered and four other people seriously injured.

"This has got to stop and I have a direct appeal to the community to help us to do so.

"We need people with information to come forward. My police officers are men and women from within this community – your community – who have opted to protect and serve you. They are your neighbours, he said.

The Chief Constable paid tribute to the dedication of his colleagues: "My officers joined the police service to serve the community here. Every day and night they respond to reports of burglary, domestic abuse, missing persons, vehicle theft, rape… the list goes on. Last night in Craigavon it was a call to a broken window. Such is the desire within my organisation to win the support of all within the community my officers responded knowing the threat to their lives was a very real possibility.

"But last night their commitment was met with the very worst in human nature. This morning the Police Service of Northern Ireland has lost an officer. But I say to you – the people living on this island – you have lost a member of your community. This was not only an attack on the peace process – it was an attack on the community here.

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