RIRA unit 'small but deadly'

Roddy McGregor
Irish News

Derry's top police officer has warned that a "small but deadly" Real
IRA unit in the city could mount further attacks in the run-up to
next week's peace process talks in England.

Chief Superintendent Richard Russell said security measures in Derry,
including those relating to construction workers, had been reviewed
in the aftermath of Wednesday's gun attack on Strand Road Police

The dissident republican group has claimed responsibility for the
attack during which up to 30 high-velocity bullets were fired towards
the base from an adjacent street.

A number of civilian workmen working on an extension inside the base
dived for cover but were uninjured.

They returned to work within two hours of the shooting. The attack
was recorded on police CCTV cameras.

The Real IRA claimed that the shooting was aimed at the workers,
adding that there would be "no more warnings" to anyone supplying or
working at "crown force" bases.

The group was responsible for planting a booby-trap device which
killed Protestant civilian construction worker David Caldwell at a
Territorial Army base in the city in August 2002.

The same group is suspected of assembling a 1,200lb bomb intercepted
in Derry last summer, of planting a device at Shackleton Army
Barracks in Ballykelly in February, and of orchestrating a series of
attacks on District Policing Partnership members throughout the north

Wednesday's gun attack took place yards from a doctor's surgery and
two creche facilities on Bayview Terrace.

Mr Russell said he was not surprised that the Real IRA had carried
out an attack in the run-up to the "milestone" political talks in
Leeds Castle next week.

He said it was possible that the group may be planning other attacks
to coincide with the negotiations.

"I couldn't rule anything out. I think we will have to be aware that
it is possible that something else might happen before the 15th and
indeed after the 15th," he said.

Mr Russell said a core Real IRA group still posed a significant
threat to security in Derry.

"It is a relatively small group, but there is no doubt it is made up
of very determined terrorists," he said.

"They are a small but deadly group and they have proved that in the

Mr Russell said police would take whatever security measures were
necessary to protect police and the public, including civilian
construction workers employed at security bases.

"We need to be very watchful and vigilant all the time in relation to
the security of people going about their everyday business," he said.

September 11, 2004

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