Northern Ireland news

CIRA claim to have used Russian sniper rifle to fire on police helicopter

Police denied suggestions that an aircraft was forced to take evasive action

THE Continuity IRA has said it fired a high powered Dragunov sniper rifle, a weapon favoured by the Russian military, at a helicopter in Co Fermanagh.

Using a recognised codeword, the Continuity IRA was responding to a police statement that there was no evidence to verify a claim by the organisation that it fired at least nine rounds at the PSNI helicopter at Wattlebridge, close to the Co Cavan border last Thursday.

On Friday, police denied suggestions that an aircraft was forced to take evasive action but said "if there was any truth in the claims" the actions had to be condemned.

The CIRA has now said it rang both a local radio and television station with a bomb warning on Wednesday. The PSNI, apparently cautious to attempts to lure them into the area, following a bomb attack in August 2019, instead sent the a helicopter to inspect the rural border road.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Commander Superintendent Alywin Barton denied claims that the helicopter was required to take evasive action after being fired upon saying there were "no reports of shots being heard or fired in the area. I can also confirm that no police aircraft sustained any damage".

“If there is any truth to this claim 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," he added.

However, responding to the PSNI the dissident group, active in the Fermanagh area in recent years, issued a further statement to the media giving specific details of the attack and the weapon used.

"Volunteers armed with a high powered Dragunov Russian assault rifle were waiting to carry out an ambush on police personnel that were to attend a hoax bomb warning call for the Wattlebridge Road.

"The hoax is still behind a bus shelter at the Cavan/Clones crossroads. The PSNI Crown forces have yet to come back into the area since the helicopter attack, sending helicopters and planes to the area.

"If they were to go to the Drumcrin Road they will find the spent bullet casings from the attack on a layby."

The statement goes on to give specific details of the location of the shooting and warns of further attacks.

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