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Police: IRA Planted Bomb in Town Near Enniskillen That Didn’t Explode

November 11, 1987 GMT

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Police investigating the IRA bombing that killed 11 people in Enniskillen said they found a second IRA bomb that failed to explode the same day in a nearby town.

Police said Tuesday the discovery of a 150-pound bomb in Tullyhommon proves the Irish Republican Army lied when it said the Enniskillen attack was a mistake it regretted.

A British newspaper today quoted an unidentified member of the IRA’s military command as saying the widely condemned attack at Enniskillen was ″a major setback″ for the IRA.

The IRA leader also was quoted as saying the Enniskillen bomb was 40 pounds, far smaller than the one police found in Tullyhommon.

Belfast police headquarters said in a statement Tuesday that police found the 150-pound bomb hidden in a hedge Sunday at the assembly point for a war memorial service held Sunday at Tullyhommon.

The town is 18 miles northwest of Enniskillen, a town of 13,000 in west Northern Ireland. Eleven people were killed and 63 wounded when a bomb the IRA hid in a building exploded during a war memorial service Sunday.

The statement said the IRA had tried to explode the bomb in Tullyhommon but it failed to go off. Later Sunday, the IRA notified a Belfast radio station of the location of the dub bomb. It took until Tuesday for army explosives experts to defuse the bomb after checking it for boobytraps.

″This second bomb is a clear indication that the Enniskillen incident was not an isolated one,″ the police statement said. ″The (second) bomb was placed in a position where, had it exploded, it could have killed and seriously injured more innocent people. Any attempt by the ... IRA to excuse their premeditated deadly intent should be treated with the contempt it deserves.″

The bomb at Enniskillen exploded shortly before a service on Remembrance Day, when people in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain honor the memory of the dead of two world wars.

The statement said police found a command wire from the second bomb leading across the border into the Irish Republic. It said the detonation site overlooked an assembly point where 50 people from youth groups and more than 100 parents and friends had gathered, together with a pipe band and a small group of veterans for Sunday’s Remembrance Day service at Tullyhommon.

The IRA told the radio station three soldiers were unwittingly standing beside the device when IRA men tried but failed to set it off on Sunday.

Outrage on both sides of the Irish border over the Enniskillen bombing appears to have isolated the outlawed, mainly Catholic IRA, which seeks to drive the British from Northern Ireland.

The IRA wants to unite the predominantly Protestant province with the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish Republic under socialist rule.

Pope John Paul II sent condolences to Enniskillen on Tuesday and condemned ″violence and every support or tolerance of criminals against human life.″

Hundreds of Catholics joined Protestant mourners on Tuesday at Enniskillen for the funerals of three of the victims. More than 1,000 people attended the funeral of nurse Marie Wilson, 20, whose Methodist church overflowed with mourners, including several Catholic priests.

The IRA in a statement to Irish news media Monday called the casualties at Enniskillen the ″catastrophic consequences″ which ″we deeply regret.″

The British newspaper The Independent today published an interview with a man it described as a leading member of the IRA’s military command.

The paper quoted him as saying on Tuesday that the Enniskillen bombing had badly damaged the IRA’s morale, credibility and reputation.

″Politically it’s going to have a long-term effect, possibly for years. It allows the British to slot us into the category of terrorists, and that’s bad,″ he was quoted as saying. ″Enniskillen hasn’t impeded the operational capacity of the IRA and it won’t. But politically and internationally it is a major setback.″

The article said the IRA leader gave what he called the official IRA version of the Enniskillen attack: that it was suggested by IRA men at the local level and sanctioned by a ″middle level″ officer.