PSNI officer struck by lorry in case being treated as attempted murder
A police officer has been struck by a lorry which was "driven at speed" directly at him in a hit-and-run which is being treated as attempted murder.
The incident happened on the Mullaghduff Road area of Cullyhanna just before 1.30pm on Friday.
The officer sustained serious head injuries when the low loader truck drove into him at speed as he approached the vehicle on foot in Co Armagh.
The constable was part of a police patrol who were were travelling along the road following up enquiries linked to the overnight theft of an ATM in the Newry area.
They encountered a suspicious lorry transporting a car.
As one of the officers exited the police vehicle to speak to the driver, the lorry was driven at speed directly at the officer, striking and pinning him between the lorry and a police patrol vehicle.
The lorry then fled the scene.
Police said the officer’s colleagues rushed to help him, providing emergency first aid.
The PSNI helicopter was then used to transport the officer to hospital in Belfast.
Police are not linking the hit and run with the earlier ATM theft in Newry at this stage.
Superintendent Simon Walls said: “The constable is still undergoing medical assessment however we understand that while his injuries are serious, at this stage, they are not thought to be life threatening.
"I am sure the local community in south Armagh will join us in condemning this callous incident and in wishing him a speedy and complete recovery.
"From the accounts of those at the scene, this appears to have been a deliberate act and as such we will be treating this incident as the attempted murder of a police officer.
"We are keen to locate the driver and the lorry involved, described as low loader with a white cab, a yellow bumper, a red low loader body and carrying a white or silver vehicle."
Anyone who can assist the police investigation in any way is asked to contact Newry Reactive and Organised crime detectives by calling 101.
If someone would prefer to provide information about this incident anonymously, they can contact the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.
Northern Ireland's Secretary of State has expressed her "concern" following the incident.
She said: "Very concerned to hear a PSNI officer injured in the line of duty. I wish him a speedy recovery and wholeheartedly condemn those responsible."
DUP MLA William Irwin has condemned the hit-and-run branding it a "clear attempt to murder".
He said: "This is a clear attempt to murder a serving police officer in the course of his duty.
"The theft of the ATM machine was a clearly required a lot of planning and organisation.
"The police must be fully supported in their efforts to track down those responsible and this hit and run is a shocking reminder of the dangers officers face as they seek to keep the public safe.
"If the person responsible for this incident is linked to the theft then it underlines the extremely dangerous nature of those involved organised theft of ATM machines.
"My thoughts are with the officer as he is treated for injuries suffered and I hope that he will make a full recovery and might soon be able to return to duty."
Ulster Unionist Councillor David Taylor called the incident "disgusting".
He said: “There can be no doubt the incident was a deliberate attempt to kill the Police Officer and should be condemned by all right thinking people. It is disgusting that a man serving the whole community should be mown down in the line of duty.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the injured Police Officer and wish him a speedy recovery.
“I sincerely hope that the perpetrators of this vile act will be apprehended as soon as possible. Anyone who has information about this incident should report it to the PSNI immediately so that we can get these thugs off our streets.”
SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley called it an "incredibly reckless attack".
He said: "This was an incredibly reckless attack that could have left someone dead today. To drive a lorry directly at anyone is a wildly dangerous act and it’s important that those behind it are taken off the streets.
“My thoughts are with the police officer who was injured during this incident and I hope he makes a full recovery.
“I would appeal to anyone with any information to bring it forward as soon as possible so that these reckless thugs can be brought before the courts."
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has said that she hopes the police officer injured makes a full and speedy recovery.
She said: "The officer was injured in investigating the stealing of an ATM machine from a local business and sustained serious injuries and I hope he makes a full and speedy recovery.
“Not only did the criminals manage to rob the community of a much needed facility but also caused massive damage to a local business.
“I am also concerned that this ATM machine will not be replaced as it took six years to convince the providers to place the machine in the area.
“The people who carried out this criminal act have nothing to offer our community and need to stop preying on local businesses and community facilities for their own gain.”