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IRA base assault 'meant to kill'

Soldiers who opened fire and killed four IRA men following an attack on an RUC station would have been unaware no police officers had died, an American war expert has told the High Court.

William Hays Parks said it was reasonable to suspect fatalities given the "lethality" of the assault on the base in Tyrone nearly 20 years ago.

Mr Parks, a lawyer and US Marine Corps veteran, was called as a defence expert witness in the case brought by a man shot and wounded at the scene of the killings.

Aidan McKeever is suing the Ministry of Defence for assault and battery and what he claims was unreasonable force during the operation at Clonoe in February 1992.

Soldiers opened fire on the IRA men as they dumped a lorry used in a machine-gun attack on an RUC station in Coalisland.

Mr McKeever, who was unarmed and not among those who carried out the attack, said he was shot in the chest as he tried to get out of his car.

In his evidence Mr Parks accepted that the security operation was "not without flaws" but said the volume of fire directed at the RUC station could have led to a belief that officers had been hit.

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In cross-examination counsel for Mr McKeever put it to him that the soldiers had intelligence of the IRA attack.

Mr Parks responded by claiming this would have been speculation due to the level of "lethality" involved.

He said: "I have seen nothing to suggest soldiers had received a report that there were no casualties.

"It also suggested there was certainly an intent (by) the active service unit to kill persons inside the RUC station."

The case was adjourned until next week.

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