'I shot to kill', para tells Bloody Sunday inquiry

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The Independent Online

A paratrooper who may have shot the first of 14 people killed on Bloody Sunday described it as "something like they do in the movies", the tribunal into the massacre heard yesterday.

Soldier A, a corporal in the Machine Gun Platoon of 1 Para, said in a statement that his target was about to throw a nail bomb and he shot to kill as he was entitled to do under the Army's rules for opening fire.

Lord Saville of Newdigate's inquiry into the events of 30 January 1972, during an illegal civil rights march in Londonderry, yesterday examined the circumstances surrounding the shootings of Damien Donaghy and John Johnston. Theywere wounded prior to 4pm, before the bulk of the shooting by paratroopers at about 4.05pm.

Mr Donaghy, then aged 15, and Mr Johnston were shot in circumstances described by Christopher Clarke QC ,counsel to the inquiry, as "controversial".

Two statements by Soldier A described how he was in a derelict building on William Street when he saw two black bean can-type objects he believed were nail bombs rolling out of his line of vision and then heard them explode. He claimed he then saw a man striking a fuse match against a wall while holding a "dark object" he was certain was a nail bomb.

He recounted aiming for the man's body and firing two shots, saying the Yellow Card - the Army's rules for opening fire - gave him the authority to shoot nail bombers.

"The second shot hit the guy. His body went up and back with his hands flung up in the air. Without sounding flippant, it was something like they do in the movies and is due to the force of the 7.62 round which really does send shockwaves."

Mr Johnston claimed before he died of a brain tumour five months later, that the soldiers were "just shooting at anything, like herrings in a barrel".

The inquiry was shown notes of an interview with Mr Johnston in which he said:"I never heard a shot or any bomb before I was hit. Not a solitary thing did I hear except the rubber bullets and stones. How could anyone pick me out as a gunman? There I was walking with my back to the troops. They were just shooting at anything, like herrings in a barrel."

The tribunal also heard how soldiers in the 22nd Light Air Defence Regiment lied about how a soldier shot himself in the foot while resting his rifle barrel on it that day. His statement said those present agreed "it would be better for me to report that the acccident occurred as I fell down a flight of stairs".

The inquiry continues.

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