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N.Ireland police chief defiant after 2nd attack

  A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March ...
   A police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March...
  A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March ...

CORRECTION Britain Northern Ireland Shooting

A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March ...

CORRECTION Britain Northern Ireland Shooting

A police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March...

CORRECTION APTOPIX Britain Northern Ireland Shooting

A Police Service of Northern Ireland officer aims his rifle as he takes up position near Lismore Manor, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, March ...

Irish Republican Army dissidents fatally shot a policeman in the head as he responded to an emergency call, just 48 hours after the killing of two soldiers, Northern Ireland's police commander said Tuesday.
Together, the killings are the first of British security forces in Northern Ireland since 1998 _ the year that rival British Protestant and Irish Catholic politicians tried to leave behind decades of bloodshed by striking a peace deal that called for paramilitary disarmament and a cross-community government.
But in a sign that dissident bloodshed is once again setting the political agenda, the Catholic and Protestant leaders of Northern Ireland's power-sharing coalition again canceled plans to travel to the United States to seek increased American investment.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness initially postponed their trip Sunday after the Real IRA splinter group killed two soldiers and wounded two others as they collected pizzas outside their base from two delivery men, who also were shot. This time, the leaders got as far as London before turning back for home Tuesday to deal with the swelling security crisis.
"I am sickened at the attempts by terrorists to destabilize Northern Ireland. Those responsible for this murderous act will not be allowed to drag our province back to the past," said Robinson, whose Democratic Unionist Party represents most Protestants.
Chief Constable Hugh Orde, whose police force was already on high alert following the killing of the soldiers, said Monday night's attack looked like "a deliberate set-up."
He said police in Craigavon, a religiously divided town southwest of Belfast, received "a call for help from a terrified member of the community." A woman reported that a street gang had shattered a window of her home.
Reflecting their heightened security precautions because of the rising threat from IRA dissidents, Orde said the officers "stood off for a sensible period of time" to check for any signs they might be heading into a trap. Then two carloads of police drove in to deal with the woman's call.
An officer with more than 20 years' service was sitting in the car providing cover to the other unit when he was shot in the head, apparently at close range. Orde declined to identify the officer pending notification of relatives.
"This will not put off me or my officers delivering the service we do, to the communities we are paid to protect. That will continue, unrelenting. ... We will not be intimidated," Orde told a Belfast news conference.
No group claimed responsibility for the Craigavon attack, but politicians and analysts universally blamed IRA dissidents, who are bent on reversing Northern Ireland's 15-year-old peace process. The process has delivered cease-fires by rival paramilitary groups in the mid-1990s, IRA disarmament in 2005, the rise of the Catholic-Protestant administration in May 2007 and the withdrawal of British troops from security duties two months later.
The Real IRA claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack outside the entrance of the Massereene army base in Antrim, west of Belfast. The group defended its decision to shoot the two pizza deliverers, as well as the unarmed soldiers, on the grounds they were "collaborating" with the enemy.
The Catholic districts of Craigavon and its neighboring town, Lurgan, are power bases for a different dissident group, the Continuity IRA. That faction also opposes the decision of most IRA members to renounce violence and surrender arms in 2005.
Orde declined to confirm whether the Continuity IRA was suspected of committing Monday's killing _ but said it wasn't the same group of gunmen who targeted the soldiers.
"I'm not sure I want to give them any particular, credible name. These are criminal psychopaths, determined to wreck what 99.9 percent of people in Northern Ireland want," Orde said.
He emphasized that his force _ which used to be overwhelmingly Protestant but has heavily recruited Catholics as part of wider peacemaking efforts _ needs Catholics who live in traditional IRA strongholds to provide tipoffs about the dissidents in their communities. That has rarely happened before.
In a written appeal, he called on people to come forward with any information they have.
"Children today do not remember the horrors of the past. Let us not repeat that pointless loss of life with them," Orde's statement said.


Updated : 2021-05-16 01:23 GMT+08:00