18 February 1999 Edition

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Lurgan collusion claim

Lurgan Sinn Fein councillor John O'Dowd has called on the RUC to release the forensic history of a weapon found near a hijacked vehicle in Magheralin on 30 January.

The vehicle which was hijacked at gunpoint in the loyalist Mourneview estate turned up several miles away with a gun hidden close by.

Councillor O'Dowd said, ``It is now blatantly obvious that a loyalist murder bid against members of the nationalist community was at a well-advanced stage. What, however, is not so obvious is exactly when did the RUC become aware of this murder attempt and how did the hijackers manage to drive their vehicle several miles out of town despite the hijacking being reported almost immediately and still have time to park the car and hide the weapon apparently for a second party to collect. They were then able to disappear without a trace, as did those the car had been left for''.

It is known that an active LVF unit is operating out of the estate and probaly would have used the cover of the Orange Volunteers. The area where the car was found is also well known for a number of sectarian attacks on Catholics.

``Many people are now asking where was the follow up search? Where was the saturation of loyalist area by crown forces, a scene so familiar in nationalist areas after lesser incidents?'', Councillor O'Dowd said.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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