Six hurt in massive IRA blast

SIX PEOPLE, including three police officers and three women - two of them pensioners - were injured yesterday when a 1,000lb bomb exploded in the centre of Portadown, Co Armagh.

Several buildings were demolished and many more extensively damaged. Roofs were ripped off, windows shattered and businesses destroyed.

The device was packed into a van left outside a branch of the Northern Bank in the high street. As police became suspicious and started to evacuate the immediate area, a number of telephone warnings were made by the IRA, one placing the bomb half a mile away in another part of the town.

A police spokesman at the scene described damage as 'very extensive'. One witness said the town was 'wrecked from one end to the other'.

Two of the injured officers were on duty at the time while a third was out shopping. Three civilians, all women, one aged 74 and another 65, were hurt. One of the policemen and the 65-year-old woman suffered serious leg injuries and were transferred to Belfast for specialist treatment after first being treated at the local Craigavon Area Hospital.