Northern Irish police officer 'critical but stable' after shooting

Northern Irish police officer
# 23 February 2023 03:52 (UTC +04:00)

A Northern Irish police officer is in a "critical but stable" condition in hospital after being shot at a youth sports complex in the town of Omagh on Wednesday evening, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said, APA reports citing Reuters.

Two security sources familiar with the incident told Reuters that the off-duty officer was shot a number of times. One of the sources said two gunmen opened fire.

A lawmaker from the area, Tom Elliott of the Ulster Unionist Party, said the officer was a youth Gaelic football coach and was shot in front of young people while finishing a training session.

Police in the Republic of Ireland said they were assisting the PSNI and had intensified patrolling in counties along the open border with Northern Ireland.

The PSNI did not comment on a motive for the attack.

While a 1998 peace deal largely ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, police officers are still sporadically targeted by small splinter groups of mostly nationalist militants opposed to Britain's rule over the region.

Some 3,600 people died during the fighting between Irish nationalist militants seeking union with the rest of Ireland, and the British army and pro-British unionist militants wanting to stay in the United Kingdom.

The county Tyrone town of Omagh was the scene of the worst attack of the period known as "The Troubles." Irish nationalist militants killed 29 people when they detonated a car bomb on a busy shopping street four months after the peace deal was signed.

The shooting on Wednesday was condemned by the governments in Dublin and London, which are currently locked in negotiations to try to end a post-Brexit EU/UK trade spat in Northern Ireland that has led to political stalemate in the region.

"I utterly condemn this grotesque act of attempted murder," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement.

The attack was also strongly criticised by all the main political parties in Northern Ireland.

"This is an outrageous and shameful attack. I unreservedly condemn this reprehensible attempt to murder a police officer," said Michelle O'Neill, the regional leader of Irish nationalists Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the militant Irish Republican Army.

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