Masked gunmen seen at Lurgan riots

Published Friday, 18 September 2009
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Masked gunmen were at the scene of disturbances in Lurgan on Thursday night, according to police and local politicians.

More than five vehicles were hijacked and set on fire in the Kilwilkie area.

Police say no petrol bombs were thrown and no-one was injured but a replica gun was recovered.

The trouble flared hours after three Lurgan men, who admitted their role in a dissident bomb plot, were jailed for a total of 45 years.

SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly said the violence was highly organised.

"The trouble was anticipated by both police and the community given the sentencing of three men for dissident crimes," she said.

"It is very serious and highly organised, with stockpiling of petrol since yesterday, and we are getting reports of more hijackings and armed and masked men being seen in parts of the town."

'Disgrace'

She added that her main concern was that young people were caught up in the rioting.

" I would ask them - and more particularly their parents - to reflect on what is happening here. Three young men are beginning long prison sentences to absolutely no purpose whatsoever," she said.

"What they were up to was futile just as the rioting is futile. It can achieve nothing positive for the community or for any political cause. It can only achieve destruction and injury or worse, and the waste of young lives."

Police have described the violence in Lurgan as an "absolute disgrace".

Chief Inspector Jason Murphy said:

"This was clearly an attempt to draw my officers into the situation to escalate the violence and to cause serious disruption or injury.

"The actions of these criminals will not deter my officers from providing a service to the people of Lurgan. We have launched an investigation into last night's disorder and will be seeking to gather all the evidence we can to bring those involved to justice."

CI Murphy also said they received reports of masked gunmen in the area.

"Police received numerous reports of armed gunmen in the area last night and while there are no reports of any shots being fired this is not acceptable behaviour for our streets and robust action will be taken," he said.

The PSNI thanked members of the community who reported incidents and encouraged them to continue helping them.

© UTV News
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