Westminster attack makes two days of terror in the UK

The incidents that unfolded outside the Houses of Parliament and on Westminster Bridge this afternoon mark two consecutive days of terror attacks on UK soil. While the details of precisely what happened today are still being released to the media what we do know is that a man drove a vehicle in to a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing in to railings. The attack eerily echoes similar attacks carried out in France and Germany over the last year. Figures on casualties remain unconfirmed at this time but at least five people have been seen removed from the scene by ambulance.

He then abandoned the vehicle and at around 1445hrs either he or an accomplice attacked a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament. The police officer was stabbed before the attacker was then shot by armed officers responding to the scene. British Prime Minister Theresa May was still inside the building at the time of the attack on the officer following her weekly Prime Minister’s Questions with the House of Commons and was quickly ushered away by her security team. The House of Commons was then put in to lockdown as the area was searched and secured by police officers.

While the incident at Westminster is getting world attention it has overshadowed a terror attack carried out on UK soil yesterday by Irish dissidents in Strabane, County Tyrone. A bomb exploded near two Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers patrolling Townsend Street at 2030hrs on Tuesday night. The attack occurred just hours after former IRA commander Martin McGuinness’s body was carried through Bogside in Derry just 12 miles away.

PSNI Strabane

PSNI vehicle in Strabane, County Tyrone (BBC)

Speaking to the press, PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said;

“We are incredibly lucky that the lives of officers and other members of the community were not lost last night.

It is the latest in a string of attacks by Irish dissidents that included a sniper attack on a PSNI officer at a petrol station in north Belfast in January and an attempted bomb attack in the Poleglass area of the city. The Police Federation for Northern Ireland described the attackers who planted the bomb as “terrorists” while many republican politicians voiced their condemnation.

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News Round-Up – March 11th 2017

RAF CHinook HC.2 helicopter

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General News

Private firms could bid to run MoD guard service
(Helensburgh Advertiser)

RAF Chinook airlifts Sea Harrier ‘jump jet’ to new home
(ITV)

Winston Churchill’s SECRET bunkers hidden all over Britain in THESE classified locations
(Express)

British wartime experience in Italy has been brought to life in London
(Apollo)


British Army News

The Queen to re-open National Army Museum
(Royal Central)

Army officer ‘sues defence bosses after helicopter SLICES into his head’
(Daily Star)

Kenyan MP is charged with inciting deadly land invasions after former British Army officer is shot dead on his ranch in the country
(Mail Online)

UK undertakes major collective training review
(IHS Janes)


Royal Air Force News

RAF fighters scrambled to intercept flight from Bucharest and escort it to Birmingham
(Mirror)

£60m RAF Chinook helicopter in near miss with drone as pilot says collision could have downed aircraft
(Telegraph)

Unsung heroics of the last RAF pilot to battle the Luftwaffe in a biplane during World War Two are revealed as his medals sell for £22,000
(Mail Online)

Drone footage shows scale of search for missing RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague at Milton rubbish dump
(Eastern Daily Press)

The British are coming — to train at Davis-Montham
(Tucson Sentinnel)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal navy change course after Iran vessels come close
(Daily Sabah)

Royal Navy’s first Batch 2 River-class patrol vessel named HMS Forth
(Naval Technology)

Royal Navy ‘ghost ship’ with no crew washes up on Cornish beach
(Yahoo)


Disclaimer: all news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them.

News Round-Up – February 16th 2017

british-army-challenger-ii-era

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General News

Nato defence spending target met, government insists
(BBC)

Red Flag may affect whether F-35s deploy overseas this year
(Defense News)


British Army News

Unanswered questions behind the failed witch hunt of Iraq veterans
(The Telegraph)

Army veterans’ march moved to Coleraine over safety concerns in Derry
(Belfast Telegraph)

Soldiers’ families condemn MoD plans to make itself immune from prosecution for negligence
(The Independent)

Military to offer soldiers three-day week away from frontline
(Guardian)


Royal Air Force News

RAF airlift assistance for French counter-insurgency ops in Africa
(Defense Web)

Ministry of Defence pays £200k to farmers after chickens are scared to death by aircraft
(Somerset Live)

RAF hero aged 100 is back in a Spitfire
(Belfast Telegraph)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal Navy’s entire fleet of attack submarines out of action
(The Independent)

UK and Italian Defense Cooperation
(Second Line of Defense)

‘Dad’s Navy’ recruited to crew fleet’s new carriers amid staffing crisis
(Daily Star)


Disclaimer: all news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them.

2009 Massereene Barracks Shooting

Saturday 7th March 2009

Massereene Barracks was situated in Antrim and in 2009 was home to 38 Engineering Regiment. Despite it being north western Europe, the combat fatigues worn by most of the soldiers at the barracks that day were of the desert type suited to Afghanistan for the regiment were on the eve of a deployment to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick. At approximately 2140hrs, a group of soldiers emerged from the barracks to meet up with two delivery drivers from the local Domino’s Pizza. Among them were Sappers Mark Fitzpatrick, Patrick Azimkar, Richard Marshall, Christopher Fairclough and Mark Quinsey.

The soldiers spoke mainly to one of the drivers, local man Anthony Watson, since his colleague was a Polish-born man who spoke very little English. As they worked out their bill they were unaware that they were being observed by the two occupants of a green Vauxhall Cavalier that had stopped across the road from the main gate to the barracks.

According to Sapper Mark Fitzpatrick’s account,  he heard some commotion followed by someone shouting for them to take cover. There was suddenly a burst of automatic gunfire that hit Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey. Azimkar fell against Fitzpatrick before dropping to the ground; conscious but in pain. Quinsey was silent however. Fitzpatrick quickly took cover in the footwell of the pizza driver’s car while Richard Marshall took cover behind the vehicle before making a run for the main gate with Fairclough to alert the barracks of the attack.

Whilst taking cover in the car, Fitzpatrick looked up at one of the gunmen. He later described what happened next;

Whoever it was wanted to cause damage and they finished [Amzikar] off before firing in at me…There was no remorse. He knew what he was doing, he just seemed to do it all quick. When he saw me in the car he opened fire. [The gun] was an automatic, probably about 10 to 15 seconds of constant fire.

massereene-shooting-patrick-azimkar-mark-quinsey

Azimkar & Quinsey

Fitzpatrick was wounded in the chest where one of the 7.62mm bullets from a Romanian AKM assault rifle punctured his lung. He was also hit in his hand and shoulder. Both delivery drivers were wounded in the attack but their injuries were not life-threatening. Sappers Pat Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were both killed however with the former being shot again at close range despite already being wounded in the initial attack. They were the first British Army casualties as a result of dissident action in Northern Ireland since 1997.

The attackers fired off around 60 rounds of ammunition equivalent to two full magazines before retreating back in to their vehicle and fleeing the scene. The green Vauxhall Cavalier was found a few hours later abandoned eight miles away near Randalstown; there had been an effort to burn the vehicle but DNA evidence was obtained from it. As the news broke, the offices of The Sunday Tribune newspaper in Dublin received a call from the Real IRA – a splinter group from the previous Provisional IRA – claiming responsibility for the attack promising that as long as there was a “British military occupation of Northern Ireland” then there would be more bloodshed in the future. The caller even cited the pizza delivery men as legitimate targets since they were servicing British forces. The next day, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer Stephen Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon, County Armagh in another dissident attack this time carried out by another splinter group of the Provisional IRA known as the Continuity IRA.

massereene-shooting-patrick-azimkar-mark-quinsey-flowers

Flowers left at the gate where the shooting took place (Belfast Telegraph)

An investigation was launched into the attack while the people of the United Kingdom, who had become so focused on the threat from Islamic extremism and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, were quickly reminded that despite the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland was still divided and armed. However, many leading figures of the former Provisional IRA such as Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams publicly condemned the shootings claiming the perpetrators had no real support or plan for a united Ireland. There was also widespread condemnation from abroad such as the US and the government in Dublin as well by Pope Benedict XVI. There was also a mass vigil attended by Catholics and Protestants at the barracks to remember the fallen soldiers. The splinter groups of the IRA remained unapologetic however with the Continuity IRA stating that the Irish people had a right to use whatever force was necessary to remove the British from Ireland and that the attack was not murder but more akin to an act of war.

A week after the attack, three men were arrested but one was subsequently released. The two remaining men, Colin Duffy from Lurgan and  Brian Shivers from Magherafelt, were put on trial for the shooting. Duffy, a long-time Republican, was found not-guilty in 2012 and released but Shivers was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. There was a great deal of controversy surrounding this conviction since it was based primarily on DNA evidence found in a glove that was in the abandoned Vauxhall Cavalier but ignored the fact that Shivers was not a well man suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. There was also the fact that his wife – herself a Protestant – gave him an alibi for the night of the attack which was dismissed in the trail. After the launching of a campaign by his family and friends a retrial was granted in 2013. Shivers was cleared of the attack. His lawyer said to reporters that he was not celebrating but rather his thoughts were with the families of Pat Azimkar and Mark Quinsey who still demand answers to why their sons will never come home.

A memorial to Pat Azimkar and Mark Quinsey was erected at Massereene Barracks but was moved to Aldergrove when 38 Engineering Regiment was relocated there and the barracks were sold to Randox Laboratories Ltd. in 2013. In the days after the shooting, shocked news reporters described Army duty in 21st century Northern Ireland as being no more dangerous than on the mainland. This demonstrated how complacent many people had become regarding the situation in Northern Ireland and while there seems to be a committed effort on all sides for peace there still remain those willing to take up arms to achieve their aims.

 

 

 

News Round-Up – January 11th 2017

Wildcat HMA.2 ZZ376 of 815 NAS 212 Flight aboard HMS Duncan (D37) at West India Dock 2

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General News

Leonardo to support 62 AW159 Wildcats for British Army and Royal Navy
(Aviation Tribune)

Military history AT RISK as MoD ‘SLASHES funding to Army museums across the country’
(Express)

MoD awards £30m laser weapon contract
(The Engineer)


British Army

Brigadier who is accused of fraud becomes the most senior officer to face court martial since 1952
(Mail Online)

Injured soldier sues Ministry of Defence over rogue Afghan cop’s shooting spree
(The Telegraph)

Irish recruits to HM Forces ‘make good soldiers’
(Belfast Newsletter)


Royal Air Force

Nearly a third of RAF’s combat jets grounded by mechanical gremlins as 14 years of war take their toll
(The Sun)

UK A400M Support Contract: For Fleet of 22 Atlas Aircraft
(Second Line of Defence)

Phone part has no link to hunt for missing RAF airman Corrie McKeague, police say
(The Telegraph)


Royal Navy & Marines

Royal Marines ‘facing cut in numbers’ to meet £500m shortfall
(Express & Echo)

Retired Royal Navy subs rusting in dock cost taxpayers 34.4million over several years
(Mirror)

Baggers’ sights set on defending Queen Elizabeth task group
(Navy News)

Fears over expanding MoD police role on the Clyde
(The Ferret Scot)

Royal Navy test 3D printed drone in Antarctic
(Digital Trends)


Disclaimer: all news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them.

News Round-Up – December 29th 2016

Type 45

Defence of the Realm’s Christmas hiatus is over. Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General News

Forces braced for more cuts in defence cash squeeze
(The Telegraph)

UK must boost its defence role after Brexit
(Financial Times)

MoD made 44 allegations of corruption on defence contracts since 2011
(The Guardian)


British Army News

UK Strike Brigades to wait for new artillery
(Janes)

Iraq mission ahead for Wolverhampton Army Reserve
(Express & Star)

Russian defence minister compares British army to Nazi Germany
(The Independant)

Six British ex-solders spending Christmas Day in ‘hell hole’ Indian jail
(Express)

UK Detectives Investigating Death of Kenyan in British Army
(All Africa)

This is a drill: British army returns to Hong Kong
(Yahoo)


Royal Air Force News

RAF preparing for major offensive against ISIS to crush Syrian terror ‘capital’ Raqqa
(Express)

Corrie Mckeague and his mysterious disappearance
(BBC)

Huge unexploded World War Two bomb dropped by RAF defused after 54,000 people evacuated from their homes in Germany at Christmas
(The Irish Sun)

RAF College Cranwell set for expansion
(Grantham Journal)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Rolls-Royce prepares to test ‘fix’ for unreliable Type 45 destroyer engines on the open sea
(The Telegraph)

HMS Shoreham completes refurb
(Shepard Media)

Britain is struggling to cope with an increasingly aggressive Russian navy
(Mail Online)

Royal Commonwealth Society director backs calls for a new HMY Britannia
(The Telegraph)

World’s oldest warship afloat in North-East dock takes on a £1m adventure for bicentenary
(The Northern Echo)


Disclaimer: all news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them.