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Cameron condemns "wicked and cowardly" murder of Ulster policeman

by Paul Goodman

It was the first murder of a policeman for over two years.  The officer was a 25-year old Catholic who's said to have graduated from police training college just over three weeks ago.  He was killed by a booby-trap car bomb placed beneath his vehicle near his home in Omagh, County Tyrone.

No terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility.  However, both the method and target suggest a republican splinter group.  The method, because such groups have tried to explode a series of car bombs recently, and the target, because sending a message to Catholics who might join the police service has long been a tactic of violent republicans.

I last wrote about republican car bombs last summer, when a small bomb exploded in Lurgan, as follows: "What's certain is that innocents in Northern Ireland have been lucky recently because terrorists haven't yet mastered the equipment they're using.  This good fortunte may not last long.  For those of us who don't live there, the province is worth keeping an eye on."

Our thoughts and prayers this evening are with the dead officer's family.

9.45pm Update: Owen Paterson has said - 

"This was an evil act, carried out by enemies of the whole community. First and foremost, my heartfeul thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the... PSNI officer who was murdered.

"The people in all parts of Ireland and beyond want peace and those who carried out this atrocity are in the grip of an obscene delusion if they think that by murder they can defy their will".


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