Republican News · Thursday 10 July 1997

[An Phoblacht]

IRA engages Crown Forces

With tension rising across the North IRA units engaged the British armed forces in many areas of the Six Counties using a variety of weapons and tactics.

In the first IRA attack following the forced Orange march at Garvaghy Road a Volunteer opened fire with an AK 47 assault rifle from the corner of Artana Street in the Lower Ormeau area of South Belfast.

The target was an RUC patrol sitting on the nearby bridge over the river Lagan. Five shots hit an armoured personnel carrier in the centre of the bridge. The attack was recorded by a BBC television crew filming nearby.

Later that evening across the river in the Short Strand gunfire was directed at another Crown Forces patrol operating on the Newtownards Road. Only the heavy armour on the personnel carrier prevented casualties.

Shortly after this another South Belfast ASU swung into action firing 20 shots at British riot squads attempting to move into the Markets area beside the city centre.

The first Crown Forces casualty was a female RUC member shot by the IRA's East Tyrone Brigade.

The RUC member, who is from the Portadown area, was hit in the face on Monday morning while sitting in an armoured car after a Volunteer calmly walked up to it and opened fire with a shotgun. The attack took place in the centre of Coalisland beside the heavily fortified RUC barracks.

This tactic was repeated in the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when a masked man opened fire hitting his RUC target on the leg and arm. Heavy rioting was taking place at the time.

This was also the case in Armagh City when two IRA Volunteers opened fire on an RUC patrol late on Sunday night. 15 shots were fired as the RUC operated a roadblock in English Street just before midnight. Return fire was reported, and later this same roadblock came under intense petrol bomb attack.

Part of the huge 20 million overall cost to the British government was the result of a daring attack on a train near Lurgan on Sunday when nine masked men boarded it and set it alight. All five carriages were completely destroyed. Another train was partially burned in Newry station on Tuesday. Buses too were targeted. Fifteen have been confirmed as being torched and at an average cost of 120,000, financial costs are soaring, particularly after British government buildings were destroyed in Newry.

Continuing their statement documenting the IRA's Belfast operations the Belfast Brigade said that dozens of its Volunteers also took part in attacks in North and West Belfast.

In North Belfast prior to a rocket attack in the Hallidays Road area of the New Lodge three RUC members had an extremely lucky escape when an ASU from the Ardoyne area scattered an RUC mobile support unit making its way up the Crumlin Road. Details of the shooting later emerged showing how close the 20 shots were. One bullet went through one RUC man's riot helmet, another ripped into a flak jacket and one smashed into a radio microphone attached to another flak jacket. The RUC returned fire but failed to hit anyone.

Later a Volunteer opened fire at a British soldier at the junction of Woodvale and Crumlin Roads. He had been continually firing plastic bullets at young people. Fifteen shots were directed at him, this action was again recorded by Independent television news pictures.

d while this was taking place a lone Volunteer fired one round at an RUC member in position on Alliance Avenue.

Thirty minutes later 20 shots were fired at the RUC deployed on the Oldpark Road. Again, while the RUC returned fire no one was injured.

Later on Monday night as loyalists opened fire into Ardoyne two loyalists were hit as the IRA returned fire. One loyalist was later admitted to the causality unit of a nearby hospital. The loyalists had been engaged in the petrol bombing of a nationalist home.

In West Belfast two joint British Army/RUC bases came under grenade and rifle fire as 20 shots were fired into New Barnsley's Henry Taggart barracks. A grenade was also used, hurled at one of its lookout posts. A mile away the Woodbourne base at the bottom of Lenadoon Avenue was the scene of an improvised grenade attack, with 15 shots also being directed at it.

Further down the Falls Road close to the Grosvenor and Springfield Roads 20 shots were fired at British forces putting a checkpoint into place. Despite return fire all Volunteers in this operation moved out of range, returning safely to base.

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