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Gunmen behind two attacks on police condemned in Assembly

The scene after a gun attack on PSNI officers in Ardoyne in North Belfast earlier in December.

The scene after a gun attack on PSNI officers in Ardoyne in North Belfast earlier in December.

Terrorists who carried out gun attacks on Belfast police officers on two consecutive nights have been condemned during a debate in the Assembly.

On Thursday night, 10 shots were fired at a PSNI patrol as it passed close to the Ardoyne area in the north of the city. Two vehicles were hit by the high-velocity bullets but no one was injured. On Friday, one police vehicle was struck by two bullets as it drove along the Suffolk Road.

North Belfast MLA Nelson McCausland said those responsible must be placed before the courts.

“On Thursday night a republican gunman from Ardoyne opened fire on police officers travelling up the Crumlin Road. The terrorists were able to construct a firing platform within Ardoyne and ten shots were fired. This was attempted murder which also placed passers-by in danger. The following night several shots were fired on officers on the Suffolk Road in west Belfast.”

Mr McCausland added: “The murder or attempted murder of police officers is always wrong. It was wrong in the past when the Provisional IRA attacked the RUC and it is wrong today when dissidents attack the PSNI.”

His party colleague William Humphrey said he would appeal to those who opposed the full extension of the National Crime Agency to Northern Ireland to reconsider their position.

“Our police force, communities and people are being exposed to increasing levels of evil, and it is clear that every tool that can be used by the police and security services to bring those people to book should be used,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly also condemned the attacks, describing the Crumlin Road shooting close to Holy Cross church as “particularly dangerous”.

“We could be standing here today talking about the deaths of police officers, but thankfully we are not,” he said.

Commenting on the Crumlin Road shooting, Mr Kelly said: “Although the target was police officers, there was also a secondary attempt to raise tensions and bring loyalist paramilitaries into the fray.”

Speaking on Saturday, PSNI district commander Chief Superintendent George Clarke said his officers were lucky to be alive. “For the second night in a row, dedicated community police officers have found themselves under attack from terrorists,” he said. “It is fortunate that we are not dealing with fatalities.”

 

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