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I feared for my life, says Belfast officer shot in dissident ambush

By Adrian Rutherford

A PSNI officer who survived a dissident republican murder bid has told how he thought he was going to die.

Speaking for the first time, the officer described how he was left with blood pouring from his body after being shot in north Belfast six weeks ago.

It comes as police make a fresh appeal for information about the attack at a petrol station forecourt on the Crumlin Road on January 22.

The case is due to feature on the BBC's Crimewatch programme tonight.

Police have confirmed an AK-47 assault rifle was used by the attackers.

Recalling the moment that he was shot, the PSNI officer tells the programme: "I felt something hit me... everything sort of slowed down. Blood was pouring out.

"I thought that was me. I thought I was going to die on that forecourt."

The officer, who is in his 20s, was shot two or three times in the arm in the attack.

A dissident republican group known as the New IRA later said it was responsible. It said the attack was a "targeted" attempt to kill two officers.

The officer said he signed up for policing to make a difference.

"Joining the police - it sounds cliched, but it was just the thought of helping people," he adds.

"You build a rapport and they do end up knowing you by name. I'm not just a uniform."

Detectives are hoping tonight's appeal will encourage people to come forward with information.

As well as the moment of the attack being caught on CCTV, footage also shows a red Audi A4 estate car which police are linking to the attack.

The vehicle, registration KNZ 2862, was later found burned out in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes urged people with information on the shooting to come forward.

"I welcome the opportunity to make a fresh appeal for information on Crimewatch tonight, more than one month after the attack, when I will also reveal new pieces of information in relation to the investigation," he says.

"The programme will also feature my colleague speaking about his ordeal publicly for the first time.

"He will bravely describe the moments leading up to the attack, his thoughts and feelings on realising he had been shot and injured, and also describe his road to recovery."

As many as 10 shots from an automatic weapon are believed to have been fired in the attack, which happened around 7.30pm on the evening of January 22.

The officer underwent emergency surgery in hospital and is now recovering.

The shooting drew widespread condemnation.

Chief Constable George Hamilton described it as "completely reckless" and "crazy".

Secretary of State James Brokenshire and Justice Minister Claire Sugden said it was "sickening".

The New IRA was formed in 2012 after a number of dissident republican organisations said they were unifying under one leadership.

It is believed to be the largest dissident republican organisation.

It has been responsible for a number of attacks since its formation, including the murders of prison officers David Black and Adrian Ismay.

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