Northern Ireland

Belfast attack rifle 'used to attack police before'

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Media captionDet Supt Kevin Geddes said the gun used in the attack had been fired at police in the past

A gun used to injure an officer in Belfast last week had been used to attack police before, police say.

The attack happened at a petrol station on the Crumlin Road on 22 January. The officer was hit three times in the arm.

Police believe 10 shots were fired from an AK assault rifle in the attack.

A number of cars at the petrol station were also struck by gunfire. Police revisited the scene on Sunday night and appealed for information about a car used in the attack.

A car identical to the dark red Audi A4 Estate, registration number KNZ 2862, which detectives believe the attackers used to leave the scene, was parked in Flax Street during the hour-long revisit.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The shooting happened at a petrol station on the Crumlin Road

Det Supt Kevin Geddes said: "The investigation into the shooting of a community police officer in north Belfast last week is progressing, however, I'm still keen to trace the movements of this dark red Audi.

"We know it was parked in Flax Street at 7.02 pm last Sunday night and it left the street just after 7.30pm and was driven through the Oldpark area before being burnt out around 8pm in Culmore Gardens in West Belfast.

"I am particularly interested in its movements during January in west and north Belfast."

Det Supt Geddes described the attack as "cowardly" and "completely reckless".

"It is my belief that the weapon used to fire indiscriminately at the filling station has been used before to attack police in Belfast," he said.

"I believe it is an AK type assault rifle."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Police revisited the scene of the attack on Sunday night

"It is a busy thoroughfare for motorists at that time of night and anyone could have been hit.

"There are a number of strike marks on the forecourt and on cars belonging to members of the public which could quite easily have killed or seriously injured local people, including the children who were at the station.

"Had any of the bullets hit the fuel pumps we may have also been facing casualties from an explosion."

A dissident republican group known as the New IRA said it carried out the shooting.

Three men aged, 30, 36, and 39 who were arrested following the attack were all released unconditionally.

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