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Security forces on alert over bomb blitz.

Security on both sides of the border was stepped up last night as the renegade Continuity Army Council vowed to launch a Christmas bomb blitz in Britain.

The move came as a senior source close to the CAC claimed responsibility for the bomb attack which devastated part of Markethill, Co Armagh, last Tuesday - and warned they will plant bombs at Army bases in Ulster until the British government gives a declaration that it is leaving.

Security forces in Belfast said police on both sides of the border were worried the group might attack again before the peace talks session in Stormont on Tuesday. CAC leaders delayed owning up to the Markethill bombing to embarrass the IRA - which has been accused of the outrages by Unionists.

Unionist sources last night confirmed that their leader David Trimble will sit down at the negotiating table with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

But the party wants Sinn Fein expelled from the process. A senior Unionist said: "The Markethill operation may not have been sanctioned by the IRA command, but you don't drive a 400lb van bomb through the South Armagh countryside without the IRA knowing about it and about who was involved.

"There is no doubt in our minds IRA elements unhappy with the ceasefire and Adams'' leadership took part in this operation." The CAC has previously planted several bombs - including the 1200lb jeep bomb which partially destroyed Enniskillen's Killyhevlin Hotel in 1996. They also masterminded the failed bombing outside an hotel near Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, seven weeks ago.

Security forces claim to know the names of the CAC's seven-strong army council, made up of paramilitaries from Fermanagh, Belfast, Tyrone, Armagh and Donegal, and joined in recent weeks by former IRA bombers who oppose the ceasefire.

The chief of staff is said to live in County Donegal and two women are alleged to have posts on the army council.

It is believed the terror chiefs met in recent weeks to give the go ahead for a bombing campaign to wreck the talks.

Sources claim they are also set to strike at the Loyalist Volunteer Force, which has promised to revenge the Markethill bombing. A CAC representative said last night: "The current so-called talks process is a sham and a farce.

"It is working towards an internal settlement which the Provos will sell to their people as some kind of interim arrangement.

"Our legitimate targets include all British security installations both in the six counties and in Britain.

"We will take the war to them as we are only too well aware that one huge bomb in England is more effective than several dozen bombs over here.

"We can see they have abandoned all Republican principals and the ultimate goal of a country united."
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 1997
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