Off-duty police officer shot and wounded in Northern Ireland

LONDON (AP) — An off-duty police officer was shot Wednesday in Northern Ireland, where paramilitary groups have previously attacked members of the security services.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said the officer was injured in a shooting at a sports complex in Omagh, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Belfast. The force said the officer was taken to a hospital. There was no immediate word on his condition.

More than 3,000 people were killed during three decades of violence in Northern Ireland involving Irish republican and British loyalist paramilitaries and U.K. security forces.

The 1998 Good Friday peace accord largely ended the conflict, known as “the Troubles.” Major Catholic and Protestant paramilitary groups gave up violence and disarmed, but small Irish Republican Army splinter groups continued to mount sporadic attacks.

Politicians from both sides of Ireland’s political divide condemned the shooting.

Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, condemned “the cowards” behind the attack.

“These terrorists have nothing to offer and they must be brought to justice,” he said.

Michelle O’Neill, vice president of Irish republican party Sinn Fein, said she condemned “this reprehensible attempt to murder a police officer.”

Colm Eastwood of the Irish nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party said the shooting was “a chilling reminder of the horrifying violence that criminal gangs are willing to visit on the people of Northern Ireland.”

“It is a moment for us all, one community and one people, to say we are never going back to this – not in our name,” he said.

Omagh is the site of Northern Ireland’s deadliest attack, an August 1998 car bombing that killed 29 people. A dissident republican group called the Real IRA claimed responsibility for that attack,

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