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IRA gang ‘cheered’ after they shot top RUC men

The IRA killers of two top-ranking RUC officers cheered as they fled the murder scene, an eyewitness has claimed.

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were ambushed and murdered in Co Armagh in March 1989 as they returned by car from a meeting in the Republic.

In the second day of witness testimony at the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin yesterday, two witnesses said the killers ambushed the men in a van just north of the border on the Edenappa Road

Finbarr King, who worked as a scrapyard worker at the time, said the gunmen opened fire on the officers' car. “They all got into the van, as they were exiting the area they let out a big roar, like hurrah,” he said.

Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan were two of the highest-ranking RUC officers killed in the Troubles.

The tribunal, established in 2005, is investigating allegations that Garda officers or a civilian working in the force colluded with the IRA in the murders.

Another witness, teacher Maurita Halpin, said Mr Breen tried to surrender after their car was trapped but was shot anyway.

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“They must have realised they wouldn't make it and the passenger got out and came round in front of the car and put his hands up and they shot him. He fell on to the road.

“And then the other man, I think the driver, not sure whether he opened the door, or whether they (killers) went down and opened the door, but they shot him behind the wheel.”

The tribunal continues.

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