20 March 1997 Edition

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Devastating attacks on crown forces

In two attacks launched within 12 hours of each other against crown forces patrols in East and North Belfast, two British soldiers and a notorious RUC member operating out of Mountpottinger RUC barracks in the Short Strand received serious injuries.

In the first of the two attacks Volunteers in North Belfast ambushed a joint British Army/RUC patrol in Ardoyne as it moved through the area. Just after 12 o'clock a rocket propelled grenade was launched, striking a British armoured personnel carrier and leaving one of the British soldiers, a member of the Royal Tank Regiment, with severe arm injuries. Eyewitnesses later said that the damaged jeep accelerated out of the district. In their statement the IRA said, ``one of our Active Service Units attacked a crown forces patrol at Etna Drive in Ardoyne. The rocket fired struck the enemy vehicle on the side leaving one of the British soldiers with severe arm injuries. The rocket bored a large hole in the armour plating on the passenger side, just to the rear.''

Meanwhile in the second attack carried out at Strand Walk in the Short Strand area of the city, a British soldier and an RUC member received serious leg injuries when a landmine was detonated near their patrol. The RUC member, who has a reputation for harassing the local population, and the RIR lieutenant who was in charge of the crown forces patrol took the full force of the blast. Four other RIR soldiers suffered shock as a result of the blast and were hospitalised.

In claiming responsibility for the attack the IRA said, ``our Volunteers, acting on intelligence gathered over a lengthy period of time set up and carried out this well planned operation. Two members of the crown forces suffered serious injuries in the attack which was detonated around 10.15pm''.

``The IRA wishes to make it clear that two Lurgan men identified in local newspaper articles as having been expelled from the area in connection with sexual attacks on women there were not members of the IRA. We take this opportunity to serve warning that such behaviour will not be tolerated by the IRA''.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1