Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

IRA Attacks Prod Thatcher British Leader Calls for New Measures to Combat Terrorism after Former Governor of Gibralter Is Shot at His Home

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

IRA Attacks Prod Thatcher British Leader Calls for New Measures to Combat Terrorism after Former Governor of Gibralter Is Shot at His Home

Article excerpt

PRIME Minister Margaret Thatcher has said for the first time that Irish terrorists are waging a guerrilla war in mainland Britain and that a new set of measures must be devised to combat an intensifying campaign of violence.

She has decided to convene - and is expected to chair - an emergency meeting this week of government ministers and security advisers. Downing Street sources indicated that the meeting would focus on ways of heading off the escalating campaign of violent attacks by the outlawed Irish Republican Army (IRA) on so-called "soft" targets in Britain.

Mrs. Thatcher's hand was forced by an IRA gunfire attack on Sir Peter Terry, a former governor of Gibraltar, at his home in Staffordshire last week. Sir Peter, who was the queen's representative in the British colony when British security forces there shot dead three IRA members in 1988, was wounded, but survived the attack. His wife Betty was also injured.

The couple had no special security protection, and the gunmen fired through the window of their home.

A day earlier, IRA gunmen shot and seriously wounded an Army sergeant outside a recruiting office in the London suburb of Finchley, which is Thatcher's parliamentary constituency. The attackers later escaped on a motorcycle.

Yesterday, masked gunmen shot to death a part-time member of Northern Ireland's security forces, Britain's Press Association news agency said.

The shooting of Sir Peter and his wife was the 19th incident involving the IRA on the British mainland in the last 12 months. Security officials say it shows the virtual impossibility of giving security protection to all people whose work at some time has turned them into potential IRA targets. Thatcher government targeted

IRA attacks have been made this year on targets selected to remind the British public that the terrorists bitterly oppose the Thatcher government. For example, bombs were exploded at the Carlton Club in the heart of London, a favorite venue of Conservative politicians, the London Stock Exchange, and the home of a former Conservative Party treasurer.

Thatcher, who was on a visit to Eastern Europe, said last week: "The number of things that are happening now make it important that we look once again to see if there is anything further we can do to step up our security and defense against this guerrilla warfare."

Her use of the latter phrase took her own officials by surprise. Her government had previously viewed the IRA as a group of common criminals whose activities had to be countered within normal civil law.

She appeared to move from this position, saying: "We must look to see if there are ways of stepping up our security and defending against guerrilla warfare."

A spokesman for the prime minister later said: "Security is always under review, and she will be looking at it in the light of recent events. …

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