Northern Ireland

Real IRA gunmen branded 'liars' by Derry eyewitness

scene
Image caption The shooting happened on the Glen Road in Londonderry

A Londonderry man has told the BBC he and his family were in the line of fire of gunmen in the city on Wednesday night.

The Real IRA said they opened fire on police officers and that no civilians were in the immediate area.

However, Liam Kelly branded them liars. He said five civilians were standing in a field close to three police officers when gunmen opened fire.

Police were attacked while checking on a stolen car in the Glen Road area.

It belonged to Mr Kelly's daughter.

Her mother and boyfriend and another civilian were also in the field at the time of the shooting. One bullet struck a police car.

"Three shots rang out and the police officers hit the ground," Mr Kelly said.

"I thought they were dead - I thought the shots had connected. It was a terrible feeling to think that someone had been hurt. Then a police officer told us to get down."

He added: "I am really very angry - I have a daughter at home who's traumatised by the whole thing, her mother's in the same condition.

"To say there was no civilians is just an absolute lie."

The PSNI have said there is no doubt that the attack was an attempt to kill a police officer.

District Commander Stephen Martin said: "You have police officers there trying to assist the community, trying to recover stolen property and someone tries to kill them."

"Not only did those behind the attack show absolute contempt for the police officers, but the officers were talking to members of the public when these shots were fired."

DC Martin said the shooting was "an act of madness".

Local SDLP MLA, Pat Ramsey said police were "lured" into the area.

"It clearly was an ambush in a densely populated area, it's a very busy thoroughfare as well," he said.

"There is a sense of sheer anger in this city that how dare these people say they are carrying this out, supposedly on our behalf.

"There is sheer frustration when people are doing so much to try and improve the quality of life for citizens of this city and there are others trying to destroy it.

"They need to stop, because people are sick, sore and tired of it. We cannot allow this to continue in our city."

Meanwhile, a car believed to have been abandoned by the gunmen was found near Saint Anne's Primary School in Upper Nassau Street.

Police have appealed for witnesses to the gun attack to contact them.