No evidence police helicopter was shot at by dissident republicans, says PSNI

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By David Young, PA

Police in Northern Ireland have said there is no evidence to support a claim that dissident republicans fired shots at one of their helicopters.

On Friday, Belfast-based newspaper the Irish News reported a claim of responsibility from the Continuity IRA that it shot at a PSNI helicopter near Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh last Thursday.

The paper said the renegade group claimed it had fired at least nine rounds at the aircraft from a semi-automatic rifle having lured police to the scene at Wattlebridge Road with a hoax bomb.

The CIRA used similar tactics in the same area in August 2019 when a device exploded when police and Army bomb disposal experts were investigating a security alert in Wattlebridge.

No-one was injured in that incident.

We have no evidence that a police helicopter was shot at


PSNI commander for the Fermanagh and Omagh district, Superintendent Alywin Barton, condemned the latest reported claim of responsibility.

“Our investigation into a security alert in the Wattlebridge Road area of Newtownbutler continues,” he said.

“At this time, we have no evidence that a police helicopter was shot at on Thursday morning (January 14) in this area.”

Mr Barton condemned the claim of responsibility.

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“I unequivocally condemn the actions of those who attempt to damage our communities with their criminal actions and claims, and who seek to disrupt policing and the daily lives of law-abiding citizens,” he said.

“We continue to work closely with the local community and our inquiries continue and I want to continue to appeal to members of the public living in or travelling through the area to be vigilant.

“Do not touch any suspicious objects and report any suspicious activity or object to us immediately on 999.”

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