Thursday 23 February 2017

The attack

THE triple car bomb attack that ripped the heart out of Claudy has been described as one of the forgotten atrocities of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

The first device exploded without warning outside McElhinney's shop and bar on Main Street.

Police believe the bombers attempted to telephone a warning from nearby Dungiven, but the lines were down as a result of past bomb damage to the phone exchange.

The bombers then told Dungiven shop owners that three bombs were planted in Claudy, but the proprietors were unable to contact the authorities due to the line problems.

One shop owner rushed to Dungiven police station with the warning but it was too late. Minutes after the first bomb went off, killing three people and fatally wounding three others, police officers discovered a second device in a van beside the post office.

They evacuated people towards the Beaufort Hotel, but were unaware that a third bomb had been concealed in another van outside the hotel.

Soon after the second blast, the the third bomb exploded, leaving three more dead.

At the inquest, a coroner described the outrage as "sheer, unadulterated, cold, calculated, fiendish murder".

Poet James Simmons described the moment of the attack in his work, 'Claudy'.

"An explosion too loud for your eardrums to bear, and young children squealing like pigs in the square, and all faces chalk-white and streaked with bright red, and the glass and the dust and the terrible dead."

Irish Independent

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