Seven men have been charged with attempted murder for shooting a police officer in Northern Ireland in February, investigators said Saturday. Some of the accused are being prosecuted for terrorism. The seven accused will appear in court on Monday.
On February 22, two men shot John Caldwell, an experienced police officer for 26 years in law enforcement, several times, seriously wounding him. The attack occurred while he was out of duty and coaching children, including his son, at a sports complex in the central British province town of Omagh.
Two men aged 28 and five men aged 33, 38, 45, 47 and 72 have been charged with attempted murder," the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said in a statement. Two of them were charged with membership of a banned organisation, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and three others with preparing a terrorist act. The police had previously announced that four other people arrested in connection with the case had been released "pending a report to the prosecutor's office".
The British Minister for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, welcomed the announcement of the indictments. "I would like to thank the PSNI for its efforts and progress in this matter," he tweeted. The officer was hospitalized for two months until April.
Police in Northern Ireland are targeted by sporadic attacks, once common in this region marked by three decades of violence that has left 3500 dead. Tensions in the province have been revived by Brexit.
Until the 1998 peace agreement, the "Troubles" pitted Republicans (mainly Catholics in favour of Irish reunification) and Protestant Unionists, fervent defenders of the North of the island belonging to the United Kingdom.
Unanimously condemned by the political class, the attack on the policeman came a month and a half before the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.