Belfast Telegraph

Belfast dissident murder bid rifle was used in previous attack on police

By Allan Preston

An assault rifle used by the New IRA to attack police in Belfast last week had been fired at officers before, the PSNI confirmed last night.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes revealed some of the weapon's history as he returned to the scene of the murder bid on the Crumlin Road where an officer was shot and wounded.

He said: "It is my belief that the weapon used to fire indiscriminately at the filling station has been used before to attack police in Belfast. I believe it is an AK type assault rifle.

"We recovered 10 spent cases from the firing point. The gunman fired these from across the road. It is a busy thoroughfare for motorists at that time of night and anyone could have been hit.

"There are a number of strike marks on the forecourt and on cars belonging to members of the public which could quite easily have killed or seriously injured local people, including the children who were at the station.

"Had any of the bullets hit the fuel pumps, we may have also been facing casualties from an explosion."

Det Supt Geddes said that the terrorists involved had no regard for the community and were "intent on causing murder and mayhem".

The community police officer, who sustained two bullet wounds to his arm, has undergone surgery and is recovering from his ordeal.

Police did not identify the previous attacks in which the gun was used, but Sunday Life yesterday reported that it was fired at police officers in Rosnareen Avenue in west Belfast in November 2015.

Three men aged 30, 36 and 39 were arrested in the hours following the latest attack but have all since been released.

During the hour-long reconstruction last night, police parked a dark red Audi A4 in Flax Street, registration number KNZ 2862, identical to the one they believe the attackers used to escape after the shooting.

It was parked in Flax Street at 7.02 pm last Sunday night and left the street just after 7.30pm and was driven through the Oldpark area before being burnt out at around 8pm in Culmore Gardens in West Belfast.

The terror group - an amalgamation of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and a loose collection of dissident republicans - also claimed responsibility for the 2016 murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay.

Yesterday, our sister paper Sunday Life reported further allegations about the suspected individuals, the weapon and the getaway car.

The paper said a dissident republican serving a suspended sentence over a botched bomb plot was among those in the New IRA group last Sunday.

The man - who can't be named for legal reasons - has also been accused of threatening west Belfast taxi driver Michael McGibbon, who was murdered near his home in a 'shooting by appointment' ordered by the New IRA in the Ardoyne area of the city last year.

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