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AK-47 TERROR; Real IRA riddles cars in attack on police base.

Byline: GEORGE JACKSON

A TERRORIST gunman emptied an assault rifle magazine at workmen yesterday - under the gaze of three police security cameras.

The Real IRA last night claimed responsibility for the AK-47 attack on the Strand Road police station in Derry.

No one was injured but builders who were working on an extension in the fortified base had to dive for cover as the gunman opened fire at about 9.30am.

Detectives believe the workers may have been the intended target of the attack.

And staff at a creche just yards away say children could have been killed.

Supervisor Mary Burke said: "Thank God the children hadn't arrived. What happened was terrible but it could have been so much worse."

But the terrorist did rake a nearby doctor's car with gunfire.

Dr Joe McEvoy of the Bayview Medical Centre said: "I just can't believe this. I thought days like this were long over.

"Thank goodness nobody was in my car or in any of the other cars which were hit by bullets.

"Because so many people were in the street and the fact the damage from the bullets was spread over such a wide area, it's incredible no one was injured or killed."

PSNI Inspector Bryan Hume labelled the attack as "madness".

He said: "It was indiscriminate shooting of the worst kind. The gunman discharged a full magazine from a rifle, which we believe was an AK-47, firing up to 30 bullets. Even though he fired from point-blank range, the spray of hits was over a wide area.

"It's a miracle that none of the civilian cars hit was occupied at the time."

The shooting was recorded on three police CCTV cameras mounted on a perimeter fence surrounding the Strand Road station.

The cameras are positioned a short distance from the junction of Asylum Road and Queen Street where the gunman opened fire.

The man, who wore a tartan scarf over his face, got out of a maroon Cavalier.

After he opened fire he jumped into the car which was then driven away by an accomplice. The car was later found burnt out at Quarry Street in the Brandywell area of the city.

CAPTION(S):

LETHAL: An AK-47 similar to the one used in the attack; PROBE: Policeman surveys the cars hit in the gun attack in Derry yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2004
Words:389
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