Crime & Justice

Arrests made after off-duty police officer shot in Northern Ireland

Dublin, Feb 23 (EFE).- Police in Northern Ireland on Thursday arrested three suspects in connection to the shooting of an off-duty police officer.

The three men, aged 38, 45, and 47, were held under the Terrorism Act following the attempted murder of John Caldwell, a detective chief inspector who was shot on Wednesday evening after coaching youth football.

“The officer’s condition remains critical but stable,” assistant chief constable for the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s crime department Mark McEwan said in a statement.

The PSNI have so far focused their investigation on the New IRA, a dissident Irish republican group.

Caldwell was shot multiple times by two gunmen as he loaded footballs into the trunk of his car while accompanied by his son in Omagh in central Northern Ireland, police said.

“John ran a short distance and fell to the ground when the gunmen continued to fire shots at him,” McEwan added in a statement.

“That shows the absolute callous nature of this attack, and it is utterly disgusting that the gunmen carried out this attempted murder in front of crowds of adults and children. John’s own young son was with him at the time and witnessed the shooting,” he added.

The United Kingdom’s prime minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday said he was “appalled by the disgraceful shooting of an off-duty police officer in Omagh tonight.”

Michelle O’Neill, the leader of the Irish republican Sinn Féin party in Northern Ireland, also condemned the murder attempt.

“Leaders of all political parties are united in condemnation of last night’s cowardly attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell. Our thoughts remain with John and his family and friends as they come to terms with what has happened,” she tweeted.

The alleged political element of the crime sparked memories of Northern Ireland’s dark past.

The nation was gripped by sectarian and nationalist violence for some 30 years from the 1960s-1998 amid a conflict between the Provisional IRA, in favor of the reunification of Ireland, and British loyalist paramilitary groups, the police and the British army.

Over 3,000 people were killed in the violence until the Good Friday peace agreement put a tentative end to the conflict in 1998.EFE


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