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The IRA was undoubtedly responsible for shooting dead a detective last week during an abortive armed raid on a postal delivery van, the Irish Republic's Garda Commissioner said yesterday. The assertion by Patrick Culligan followed ballistic tests confirming bullets used in the robbery that killed Garda Jerry McCabe and critically injured a colleague matched those from a Kalashnikov assault rifle used in an IRA raid in 1994. Kalashnikovs are used almost exclusively in Ireland by the IRA.

Public outrage at the murder drew 25,000 people - including the Irish President Mary Robinson, the Taoiseach, John Bruton, and other party leaders to Garda McCabe's funeral in Limerick, effectively turning the event into a demonstration against terrorism.