Report tells dark tale of 1976 Kingsmills massacre

One of the darkest episodes in the long and bloody history of the IRA was highlighted yesterday in a police report into the killing of 10 Protestant workmen in Co Armagh in the 1970s.

Chilling details of how the men were picked out and repeatedly shot on a country road by almost a dozen gunmen were given in a report by the Historical Enquiries Team, which is tracking back over Troubles deaths.

The IRA has never admitted responsibility but many of the weapons involved were used in many other IRA killings. The report said there was no excuse in the fact that the IRA unit responsible was not "well-disposed" towards central co-ordination. The incident, known as the Kingsmills massacre, took place in 1976, at a time when violence was at its height.

The textile workers were being driven home in a minibus when it was stopped and surrounded by IRA gunmen. The only Catholic in the vehicle was ordered to run off, while the Protestants were lined up against the minibus and shot by up to 11 gunmen.

The report described the incident as "appalling savagery on a gross scale, which brings utter shame on those responsible and disgrace on any cause they professed to support".