BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Police on Wednesday called
this week's car bombing at a British Army base a "deliberate
attempt at mass murder" and released a computer-generated
portrait of a suspected Irish Republican Army bomber seen
driving out of the base shortly after the blast.
Irish Prime Minister John Bruton accused the IRA of a
"cynical betrayal" of Northern Irish peace hopes.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the IRA admitted
responsibility for Monday's bombing at Thiepval Barracks in
Lisburn. It called on Britain to allow its Sinn Fein
political wing to take part in Belfast peace talks without
the precondition of disarming or calling a new cease-fire.
IRA's 'message' to Major
The bomb attack was a message to British Prime Minister John
Major that the IRA doesn't expect meaningful negotiations to
occur prior to the next British general election, said
Brendan O' Leary of the London School of Economics.
(17 sec./383K AIFF or WAV sound)
Major faces an uphill battle in the election, which must be
held by next May. Observers say the bombing by the IRA --
militant Catholics trying to end British rule in Northern
Ireland -- helps make sure the next government knows it means
Moderates caught in middle
The IRA broke a cease-fire in February, setting off a bomb in
London, but Monday's attack was the first by the IRA in
Northern Ireland in more than two years. IRA moderates who
had embraced the truce "no longer have a voice," says Paul
Beaver of the publication Jane's Defense Weekly.
(17 sec./400K AIFF or WAV sound)
Moderates on the Protestant side are also losing ground.
Monday's bombing raised fears of revenge by pro-British
"loyalist" guerrillas who have so far held to their own two-
year truce. But some Protestant political leaders urge
restraint. "Don't do what your enemy wants you to do,"
advises David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party,
political wing of the banned Ulster Volunteer Force.
(10 sec./204K AIFF or WAV sound)
Bruton: 'Terrible triangle'
"The Lisburn bombing is a cynical betrayal by the IRA of the
peace process," Bruton told the Irish parliament in Dublin.
"The IRA have now completed a terrible triangle," he said,
referring to earlier bombings and the murder of an Irish
policeman in the Irish town of Adare.
Northern Irish police said the latest attack was probably
planned at least four months ago, when the peace talks
sponsored by Britain and Ireland were just beginning. One of
the cars used in the attack was bought in June.
The computer portrait shows a man of about 40, with a black
beard, dark hair and black-rimmed glasses, said to have been
up to 5 feet 8 inches tall. Police stressed he was probably
They said he was seen driving out of the base in a blue
Volkswagen Passat, which had been purchased at a Belfast car
auction on September 23 and which was found burning in west
Belfast after Monday's bomb attack.
"I have no doubt this was a deliberate attempt at mass
murder," Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Martindale told
a news conference in Lisburn. The two bombs went off 20
minutes apart, apparently so that rescue services and people
injured in the first blast would be caught by the second, he
Thirty-one people were injured, at least four of them
Correspondent Siobhan Darrow and Reuters contributed to this report.