Peter Hoskin

Standing by an atrocity

Standing by an atrocity
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Of all the revelations about Saturday's brutal terrorist attack on Massereene Barracks, Co Antrim, those in today's Times are among the most unsettling:

"Armed security guards employed to protect the military base in Northern Ireland where two soldiers were shot dead did not open fire on the terrorists, even when they stood over the injured men and fired further shots...

...Army sources said that it was the first time that the Northern Ireland Security Guard Service (NISGS) had had to deal with a direct attack on a base. The service took over responsibility for security of barracks from soldiers more than ten years ago."

There will now be an investigation into the security guards' failure to act, although it's already clear that the current set-up is far from ideal and potentially even fatal.  The worry has to be that the relative ease of this attack for the terrorist gunmen will encourage others like it.  And, in turn, that these latest murders don't represent, as Alastair Campbell puts it, "obstacles along the way" of the peace process - but, instead, an unhappy turning point.