Belfast Telegraph

IRA blamed for Kingsmill massacre

The IRA has been blamed for one of Northern Ireland's worst terrorist atrocities.

Even though the Provisionals never owned up, a report claimed the massacre of 10 Protestants near the Irish border 35 years ago was carried out by the organisation.

The investigation by detectives also claimed guns used in the slaughter of the victims, who were lined up on a roadside in Kingsmill in Co Armagh and gunned down, may be linked to as many as 90 other murders and attempted murders.

Survivor Alan Black was shot 18 times. He said: "There is a memorial to the men in the village of Bessbrook, close to where I live, and I think often of my workmates who lost their lives on that terrible evening. The memory will never leave me.

"I have suffered physical and mental scars but the families of the men who died have suffered much more. Their grief continues every day and I hope they will find some comfort in the HET (Historical Enquiries Team) report."

On January 5, 1976, the 10 textile workers were travelling home from work in the dark and rain on a minibus in the heart of rural Co Armagh.

Just after the van cleared the rise of a hill, there was a man standing in the road flashing a torch. They stopped and there was the sudden, ominous movement of 11 other men, all armed, emerging from the hedges around them. Their first thought was that it was the Army, but the gunmen were masked.

A man asked their religions. There was only one Catholic left on the bus. He was identified and ordered away from his Protestant workmates. He was able to run off.

The lead gunman spoke one other word - "Right" - and the shooting began. Mr Black was the only one to survive.

The IRA never admitted involvement and was supposed to be on ceasefire at the time. The South Armagh Republican Action Force claimed the deaths but the HET reinvestigated the killings as part of work spanning three decades of conflict.

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