At least 11 gunmen in Kingsmill murder gang
The IRA gang responsible for the Kingsmill massacre of Protestant workmen in 1976 was made up of at least 11 gunmen, an inquest has heard.
Giving evidence at Belfast Coroner's Court yesterday, former senior investigator with the Historical Enquiries Team Stephen Morris said that this was the number of men "directly involved in the ambush".
Mr Morris said that there was "at least one other scout car" also involved, which would have contained four to five men.
The figure for those directly involved in the shooting was based on the number of weapons fired, Mr Morris explained.
The attack in January 1976 saw 10 Protestants shot dead by members of the Provisional IRA on their way home from work after the minibus they were travelling in was stopped.
Present at the court yesterday were a number of family members of those killed.
Mr Morris was quizzed on the contents of the review summary report, which he authored while working with the HET.
He said members of the IRA had made a decision that the workmen were a "worthy target".
"An event such as this, with the numbers involved, the number of weapons... it must have been planned and identified as a worthy target early on," he said.
"It was just a matter of the right motive for that attack to be carried out," adding that it was his assertion that the motive for the attack was the loyalist murders of members of the Reavey and O'Dowd families the evening before.
Mr Morris explained to the court that he had first come to Northern Ireland in 2007 to look into cases where there were allegations of collusion, and that over time his work began branching into "other complicated cases".
Fresh concerns were raised about lines of investigation not being fully pursued. Eugene McKenna, barrister for the family of victim John McConville, asked if mistakes in the investigation, which included incomplete police documents and failure to arrest suspects, amounted to "more than shortcomings".
Mr Morris said that it had been "a very significant missed opportunity".
Mr McKenna queried why Eugene Reavey - whose brothers had been killed during the loyalist attack the previous evening - had been present during a meeting between the HET and Alan Black, the sole survivor of the Kingmill massacre.
Mr Morris said he was not aware of meetings with Alan Black where Mr Reavey was present, saying Mr Reavey's purpose had been to act as a "conduit" for making contact with people in the local area.
But he added that he trusted Mr Black "implicitly".
The issue of two suspects in the Kingsmill massacre receiving so-called 'letters of comfort' was also raised, with it being confirmed that suspects previously identified before the court by the ciphers S77 and S97 were recipients.
The inquest continues.