London, Nov 18 (AFP/APP): A 65-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday over the 1974 pub bombings in the English city of Birmingham, which claimed 21 lives in one of the country’s worst terror attacks.
The twin attacks at the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs came during rising violence against British rule in Northern Ireland, both in the province and the mainland. Police said counter-terrorism officers and colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland detained the man at his home in Belfast. “The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home is being carried out,” police said in a statement. “He will be interviewed under caution at a police station in Northern Ireland.”
The attacks were widely blamed on the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary group, although it never formally claimed responsibility. An estimated 3,500 people, most of them in Northern Ireland, were killed during three decades of violence on both sides that was largely ended by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. Inquests began last year to re-examine the deaths after claims that police failed to heed two warnings about the November 21, 1974 attack, which left 182 people injured — one 11 days before, and another on the day of the bombings.
The original inquests — judicial fact-finding investigations that do not apportion blame — were halted by a police probe that led to six men being wrongly jailed for the bombings in 1975. The conviction of the so-called “Birmingham Six” was ruled unsafe by the Court of Appeal in 1991 and they were freed, after what is seen as one of Britain’s greatest miscarriages of justice. No one has since been convicted.
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