Five people, three of them police officers, were injured in the incident, which was described by a local politician as 'indiscriminate, foolhardy and mad'. None of them was seriously wounded.
In the attack IRA gunmen fired automatic weapons from the back of a flat-bed lorry while driving in front of an unmarked police car along the road to Belfast. They did not realise that a Sinn Fein councillor, who was under arrest, was in the car.
The incident began yesterday morning when an IRA group took over a house near Dungannon. It is believed they then positioned a lorry by the roadside and waited for a security force vehicle to appear.
Three officers in the car were injured, struck by bullets in the back, arm and side. The Sinn Fein councillor, Pat Trainor, from Monaghan in the Irish Republic, was hit in the hand. One policeman fired back at the terrorists.
A woman in her 50s was injured when her vehicle collided with the police car, while other vehicles struck by either bullets or fragments included a coach carrying the Scottish tourists, a car with two Dutch visitors and a third vehicle driven by a Chinese man who lives locally.
Anthony McGonnell, a Social Democratic and Labour Party councillor who also lives near by, said: 'It was an absolute miracle that noboby was murdered in this particular attack. It is the busiest road in the west: the traffic is bumper to bumper. If anybody launches an attack along this road they are inevitably bound to hit civilian targets as well. It was indiscriminate, foolhardy and mad.'
Mr Trainor had been held earlier in the day as he showed two Swedish journalists how a cross- border road had been blocked by security forces in Northern Ireland. He was said to be wanted for questioning about terrorist crimes.
The incident was the latest in a series of republican attacks which have done much to dampen speculation that an IRA ceasefire was in immediate prospect. Loyalist violence continued yesterday when a Roman Catholic businessman was shot and seriously injured while leaving a pub in Dromore, Co Down.
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