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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

Widespread condemnation as violence returns to the streets of Omagh

Colleagues have paid tribute to 25-year-old PSNI officer Ronan Kerr, who was killed when a booby-trapped carbomb detonated as he left for work yesterday afternoon in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Police officers at the scene where one of their colleagues was killed in an under car booby trap explosion, in Omagh Co Tyrone.
Police officers at the scene where one of their colleagues was killed in an under car booby trap explosion, in Omagh Co Tyrone.
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE CHIEF CONSTABLE of the PSNI, Matt Baggott, has appealed for information about the killing of a 25-year-old officer in a carbomb attack in Highfield Close, Omagh, Co Tyrone, yesterday.

Ronan Kerr, a local Catholic, had graduated to the force just three weeks ago. He was killed when a booby-trapped bomb in his car detonated as he left for work at about 4pm yesterday.

Paying tribute to his colleague, Baggott said: “We have lost one of our brave and courageous police recruits, someone who joined this fine service simply to do good, joined to serve the community impartially and to be someone I describe as a modern-day hero.”

Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny led widespread condemnation of the attack, saying: “This was a heinous and pointless act of terror. Those who carried it out want to drag us back to the misery and pain of the past. They are acting in defiance of the Irish people. They must know that they can never succeed in defeating the democratic will of the people.”

The British prime minister David Cameron said: “I utterly condemn the murder of a young police officer today in Omagh, who had dedicated himself to serving the entire community of Northern Ireland”, reports the Irish Times.

Similarly, leader of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams said: “I want to send my condolences to his family at this hugely traumatic time. Sinn Féin is determined that those responsible will not set back the progress of the Peace and Political Process.”

Omagh is the scene of the worst single atrocity of the Troubles: twenty-nine people, including six children and a woman pregnant with twins, were killed in 1998 when a bomb exploded on a busy shopping street.

There has been an escalation of attempted attacks on police in Northern Ireland since 2007. Two years ago, another Catholic PSNI officer – Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, from Banbridge – was killed by the Real IRA. His widow, Kate Carroll, told the BBC: ”They wanted Catholics to join the police. Now that the Catholics are joining up, they are shooting, killing them. What else Do they want? Blood?

“I know exactly what the family are going to go through – absolute devastation”, she said.

Dissident republicans are thought to be responsible for the killing, but no group has yet come forward to claim responsibility, RTÉ reports.

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