The first bomb was detonated as the patrol moved along Cathedral Road shortly before 2am, fatally injuring a member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Then two others were set off as his colleagues took cover, causing further injuries.
The devices had been hidden behind a wall and inside pillars in an attempt to cause multiple casualties. The RUC said the attack had been designed to murder and maim as many people as possible.
The soldier who died was L/Cpl Michael Joseph Beswick, 21, a single man from Heywood in Lancashire. He joined the army nearly four years ago and was on his first tour of duty in Northern Ireland. Last May he escaped injury in another IRA bomb attack in which a colleague died.
He was the 10th victim of terrorism this year, and the first military fatality of the year. Three of the other injured were described as seriously ill with shrapnel wounds to their legs and body. Two others and an RUC officer were treated for shock.
L/Cpl Beswick's commanding officer, Lt-Col Simon Sanderson, described him as a professional career soldier who was loyal, confident and well-respected.