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13 April 2000 Edition

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British soldiers threaten to shoot South Armagh man

BY DEIRDRE FEEHAN

A South Armagh man who was stopped and threatened by British soldiers has told An Phoblacht that the incident happened up to half a mile inside the 26 Counties.

According to the man, up to 70 British soldiers landed by helicopter in South Armagh, near Silverbridge, on the morning of Tuesday 11 April before crossing into the 26 Counties at Ballsmills.

The man rubbished the RUC's subsequent claim that local people were involved in an ``orchestrated attempt'' to draw the patrol across the border, saying that the incident occurred as he and his passenger were stopped by four British soldiers as they drove towards Hackballscross. ``The British soldiers were extremely abusive and used threatening language, they threatened to shoot me during the incident,'' he said.

Details of a second incursion into the 26 Counties later that evening have also been reported. A British Army patrol landed in the Ballsmills area at around 6.30pm; the patrol was then witnessed by locals passing across the border into the Skyhill area.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Newry/Armagh, Conor Murphy, said that ``a number of serious questions must be answered. What was the exact nature of this British military operation? Did the Irish government know about this British military incursion into the 26 Counties? If not, they must themselves raise this issue with the British government.''

Murphy asked: ``Why, at this delicate time in the peace process is Peter Mandelson allowing these provocative military operations by the British Army? Yet again nationalists are suffering from an agenda that is being set by the British military establishment.''
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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