28 May 1998 Edition

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British soldier fires shot

A British soldier on patrol in South Armagh fired a shot into the air on Tuesday night, Toni Caraher, who lives nearby, told An Phoblacht.

According to Ms Caraher two British army helicopters landed in a field near her home on Tuesday this week, dropping off up to 20 British soldiers and two RUC members.

``This was about 5.15pm,'' said Ms Caraher. ``They set up checkpoints at the school down from our house and stopped motorists. Then four soldiers and the two RUC men went into a field at Larkin's Road and it was one of these soldiers who fired the shot''.

Ms Caraher, who is a member of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents group said a number of people witnessed the British soldier firing the shot, ``not far from houses and children who were out playing''.

She went on to accuse the British army of ``employing bully boy tactics to intimidate and scare local people''.

After the incident the British patrol stayed in the area until about 7pm before setting off on foot towards Crossmaglen.

Newry and South Armagh SF representative Conor Murphy called for a complete demilitarisation of South Armagh. He also slammed the RUC's role in the incident. ``The role of the RUC in these sorts of military operations only goes to show their inability to police in an accountable or indeed unarmed manner. It underlines the necessity for the RUC to be immediately disbanded and replaced with an accountable and unarmed policing service.''

Sinn Féin Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín O'Caoláin, who was contacted by Ms Caraher, has said he will take the matter up with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. ``This is a brazen act of provocation,'' O'Caoláin said.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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