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Five Wounded In Mortar Attack On Border Base

November 24, 1986

MIDDLETOWN, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Assailants in a truck parked about 30 yards across the border in the Irish Republic fired mortars at a security force base in Middletown on Sunday, wounding five British soldiers, police said.

The outlawed Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility.

Four mortar shells exploded inside the base and one round exploded near a row of houses, police said.

They said the truck caught fire, but the assailants apparently escaped.

The base houses both British soldiers and Northern Ireland police in Middletown, a rural border village in County Armagh.

Across the border, an Irish army bomb disposal expert defused a mortar shell that failed to fire from its launch tube.

Police, fearing there might be unexploded shells, had cordoned off the village and evacuated about 50 residents to a nearby community center.

None of the soldiers was badly hurt and the base remained operational, said a spokesman for the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Belfast.

Police in the Irish Republic, where the IRA is also outlawed, set up road blocks.

On Tuesday, assailants directed mortar fire at another Armagh police station in Forkhill, but no one was hurt. The border counties of Armagh and Fermanagh are dubbed ″bandit country″ because of the large number of IRA guerrillas.

The mainly Roman Catholic IRA is fighting to unite Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland, a British province, with the Irish Republic under a leftist administration.

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