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PSNI: No evidence dissident republicans fired shots at police helicopter during security alert

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The CIRA claim to have fired shots at a PSNI helicopter.

The CIRA claim to have fired shots at a PSNI helicopter.

The CIRA claim to have fired shots at a PSNI helicopter.

Police have said there have been no reports of shots being fired at one of their helicopters after claims by a dissident republican group.

The Continuity IRA claimed that they fired shots at police during a security alert in Co Fermanagh on Thursday.

The group claimed to have fired nine shots from a high powered rifle at a police helicopter during the alert in the Wattlebridge Road area of Newtownbutler.

Despite the claims Fermanagh and Omagh District Commander Superintendent Alywin Barton confirmed "no police aircraft, deployed in the area, was required to take evasive action and that, to date, we have received no reports of shots being heard or fired in the area".

"I can also confirm that no police aircraft sustained any damage," he said.

The dissident republican group told the Irish News they had planted a hoax device in the Wattlebridge Road area to lure police into the area before launching a gun attack.

They said they opened fire on a low-flying police helicopter which was trying to inspect the device.

Superintendent Barton said if there were any truth to the CIRA's claims "then the criminals behind it have shown nothing but a reckless disregard for the community in Fermanagh".

"I unequivocally condemn the actions of those who attempt to damage our communities with their criminal actions and claims and seek to disrupt policing and the daily lives of law abiding citizens."

Superintendent Barton said police enquiries into the incident were ongoing.

“We have been working closely with the local community during our investigation and our enquiries will continue," he said.

“I continue to appeal to members of the public living in, or travelling through the area to be vigilant, do not touch any suspicious objects and report any suspicious activity or object to us immediately on 999.”

The incident is not the first time police have been lured to area after a hoax device was planted by dissident republicans.

Police and army technical officers narrowly escaped injury after responding to a security alert in the Wattlebridge Road area in August 2019.

After responding to initial reports that a device had been left in the area, a hoax device was inspected before a bomb then exploded on the main A3 Cavan Road.

Speaking at the time, then-Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said it was lucky nobody was seriously injured or killed.

"I am of the firm belief it was a deliberate attempt to lure police and army bomb disposal colleagues into the area to murder them," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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