Continuity IRA gunmen kill policeman in Northern Ireland

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Location of County Armagh within Northern Ireland

A police officer has been killed in County Armagh, Northern Ireland by Continuity IRA gunmen a mere 48 hours after two soldiers were killed.

In what is presumed to be an attempt by dissident Republicans to derail the peace process, Pc Stephen Carroll was shot in the head just before 10:00 p.m. on March 9.

The officer, described as an experienced veteran with 23 years of service, was responding to a call for help in the Lismore Manor estate in Craigavon when he was shot. In what is described as a genuine incident, a female member of the public had called for help saying a street gang had broken a window.

A two vehicle patrol was sent to the incident given previous trouble in the area. After standing off for a reasonable period to ensure that there was no ambush, the members of one vehicle got out to deal with the incident, whilst those in the second vehicle provided cover, while providing cover in the second vehicle that Pc Carrol was attacked.

The PSNI, believe that the officer was hit by one of two shots fired by a gunman secreted in scrubland on the estate. There are unconfirmed reports that a second officer has also been injured.

Responsibility for the shooting has been claimed on behalf of the North Armagh Battalion of the Continuity IRA in a coded message to Belfast media.

The shooting has led to a call for unity and calm from a broad spectrum of the community ranging from spokesmen for the Ulster Volunteer Force, who called for the gunmen to be dealt with through the courts, to Sinn Féin were quick to condemn the gunmen and to offer their condolences to the family of the dead officer.

This is the first death of a police officer to sectarian violence in over a decade, and comes after a nine month period in which intelligence indicated that dissidents were aiming to kill a policeman.