27 February 1997 Edition

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South Armagh Brigade claims sniper attack

The South Armagh Brigade of the IRA has said that one of its units shot and killed British soldier Stephen Restorick who was hit by a single shot as he operated a checkpoint in the heavily fortified village of Bessbrook on Wednesday 12 February.

The IRA statement stated: ``Volunteers from South Armagh Brigade Oglaigh na hEireann carried out an attack on British forces guarding their main helicopter base in Bessbrook on Wednesday evening 12 February. One of the British soldiers on duty was hit by a single shot and died''.

Also the IRA's Tyrone Brigade has, in a supplied statement, said that its Volunteers were involved in an attempted mortar attack on a crown forces facility at the weekend.
The attack was aborted when the RUC stumbled on the commandeered Land Rover and trailer containing the mortar bomb near Caledon. After a five mile chase along narrow winding roads the Volunteer driving the vehicle abandoned it at Coolkill Raod and escaped across fields as British helicopters and ground troops moved towards his location.

The statement said: ``A mortar unit of Tyrone Brigade Oglaigh na hEireann aborted an attack on a crown forces installation at 9.30pm on Saturday 22 February, ater a crown forces patrol stumbled across a vehicle transporting a Mark 15 mortar containing 220lb of explosives. After a five mile chase a Volunteer on board abandoned the vehicle near the heavily fortified crown force base at Middletown on the Tyrone/Monaghan border. All Volunteers involved in the operation escaped the follow-up operation carried out by the crown forces''.

Just 12 hours prior to the aborted IRA operation a British soldier from 3rd Battalion, Royal Horse Artillery shot himself in the British forces Middletown base. Gunner John Cooper from Walsall in England killed himself just before noon. Lance Bombardier Restorick was also a member of this regiment.

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