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Police patrol withdrawn after murder attempt

By Deborah McAleese

Published 01/12/2015

The car’s bullet-proof glass helped saved the officers’ lives
The car’s bullet-proof glass helped saved the officers’ lives

A police patrol guarding the scene of a shooting in West Belfast has been withdrawn from the area following the attempted murder of two officers last week.

The officers had a miraculous escape after they came under dissident republican gunfire on Thursday night while parked in Rossnareen Avenue.

A single PSNI vehicle had been in the area for over a week as part of a policing operation related to the attempted murder of a man who was shot in the head outside his home last month.

However, it is understood a decision was taken over the weekend to withdraw the police patrol from outside the victim's empty house following a safety review.

The decision came after a number of rank-and-file officers voiced concern that a lack of resources had left them like "sitting ducks" while policing high-threat areas.

They claimed that their two colleagues who came under fire had been left "dangerously exposed".

It is understood that an AK47 may have been used in the attack, which has been blamed on dissident republicans.

The car's armour plating and bullet-proof glass stopped the officers from being seriously injured or killed.

The police investigation into the terrorist attack has crossed the border. Detectives believe that the car used by the gunmen - a black BMW 3 Series with fake number plate 05 C 24774 - had been stolen from an address in Co Meath in September.

The car's genuine registration is 05 LH 5364.

Detectives are keen to speak to anyone who may know of the car's movements between September 7 and last Thursday.

Anyone with information about the movements of the car can contact the PSNI from Northern Ireland by calling 101, or from the Republic by calling 048 9065222 and asking for major investigation team detectives at Ladas Drive.

The terror threat in Northern Ireland is currently severe.

Chairman of the Police Federation, Mark Lindsay, said that the attack on the two officers "exposed the fact that we don't have sufficient numbers of officers".

"We're hundreds short of what's required," said Mr Lindsay.

"The two officers who were protecting the scene of a crime were very fortunate to escape with their lives. There is an obligation on society to afford adequate protection to those whose job it is to protect the public.

"That means there has to be sufficient resources allocated to enable this to be achieved."

He added: "This isn't some whinge by this staff association. This is a deadly serious message that they cannot play fiscal 'roulette' with policing and still expect our men and women to work as normal when there's nothing remotely 'normal' about the job that they do."

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