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30 January  
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1972: Army kills 13 in civil rights protest
British troops have opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators in the Bogside district of Londonderry, killing 13 civilians.

Seventeen more people, including one woman, were injured by gunfire. Another woman was knocked down by a speeding car.

The army said two soldiers had been hurt and up to 60 people arrested.

They just came in firing - there was no provocation whatsoever
Father Daly
It was by far the worst day of violence in this largely Roman Catholic city since the present crisis began in 1969.

Bogsiders said the troops opened fire on unarmed men - including one who had his arms up in surrender.

The trouble began as a civil rights procession, defying the Stormont ban on parades and marches, approached an Army barbed wire barricade.

The largely peaceful crowd of between 7,000 and 10,000 was marching in protest at the policy of internment without trial. Some of the younger demonstrators began shouting at the soldiers and chanting, "IRA, IRA".

A few bottles, broken paving stones, chair legs and heavy pieces of iron grating were thrown at the troops manning the barrier.

Stewards appealed for calm - but more missiles were thrown and the area behind the barricade was quickly strewn with broken glass and other debris.

The 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, which had been standing by in case of trouble, sprang into action. Squads leapt over the barricades and chased the demonstrators.

The gates were opened and eight armoured vehicles went into the Bogside and the remaining demonstrators were quickly surrounded.

Army claims provocation

The army says it opened fire after being shot at first by two snipers in flats overlooking the street. It claims acid bombs were also thrown.

The gun battle lasted about 25 minutes.

Father Edward Daly, a Catholic priest, was caught on film helping to carry a teenager who had been fatally wounded, to safety.

He said: "They just came in firing. There was no provocation whatsoever.

"Most people had their backs to them when they opened fire."

Major General Robert Ford, Commander, Land Forces Northern Ireland, who was in charge of the operation, insisted his troops had been fired on first.

"There is absolutely no doubt at all that the Parachute battalion did not open up until they had been fired at," he said.

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Civil rights marchers
Bogsiders say the troops opened fire on unarmed men

Footage from 'Bloody Sunday'



In Context
A 14th man later died of injuries received during the demonstration.

An inquiry into what became known as Bloody Sunday headed by Lord Widgery in 1972 exonerated the Army. It said their firing had "bordered on the reckless" but said the troops had been fired upon first and some of their victims had been armed.

The results of the inquiry were rejected by the Catholic community who began a long campaign for a fresh investigation.

In 1998, Tony Blair's government announced a new inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

The inquiry, headed by Lord Saville, spent two years taking witness statements. It ended in November 2004 and had cost about £150 million.

Lord Saville's final report and conclusions were supposed to be published in 2005 but the large amount of evidence being considered delayed publication, which is not expected until the end of 2007.

Stories From 30 Jan


 
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