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13 May 1999 Edition

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Increased British military activity

Sinn Féin councillor Brian Cunningham is angry over increased British military presence in the Keady, Derrynoose, Grangemore and Middletown areas of South Armagh in recent weeks.

Cunningham said: ``There has been increased British army and RIR activity in recent weeks, particularly helicopter flights and checkpoints. It is no coincidence that this is happening while the Parachute Regiment is stationed in Middletown barracks.

``On Sunday in Middletown a helicopter flew at just above rooftop level. It then flew low over a foal in a field at the back of a house, frightening the animal which ran into a fence and injured itself. The owner of the animal has complained to the British army about this incident.''

People in the area are particularly worried that this activity is happening at a time when collusion between loyalist death squads and crown forces is becoming more overt.

``On Monday, I received a complaint from a constituent in Keady about 15 British soldiers who were dropped from a helicopter on the Castleblaney Road. These soldiers were then seen making sketches of local houses and buildings,'' he said. ``Last Friday at a wedding reception in Middletown the RIR and a British military policewoman set up a checkpoint outside the premises and the RIR took photographs of the guests at the reception''.

Cunningham also had concerns about the safety of some of the locations of the checkpoints which have been set up. ``Several checkpoints in the past week have been in dangerous places. On the Derrynoose Road at the end of last week a checkpoint at a hazardous bend caused an accident in which a baby was injured when a car ran into another car.''
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