Saturday 28 March 2020


The Provisional IRA exploded a van bomb outside Limavady police station in County Londonderry.  A car close by took the full force of the blast and both occupants were killed.  A third civilian was taken to hospital with minor injuries.  The 100lb device had been left in a TV rental van that had been hijacked earlier in the day.  Its driver had been stopped by two masked men and held captive until after the bomb had gone off.

The bomb exploded at around 14:45 and caused extensive damage to the police station, but no officers were injured.  Wreckage from the van was found up to 400 yards away.

The remains of the van containing the Limavady bomb

The two victims both came from Ballykelly, a village four miles west of Limavady.  Joseph Forsythe was a 65-year-old labourer.  He was commemorated in 2016 when his name appeared on an Orange Order banner alongside 17 other terror victims who were members of the same lodge.  His colleague that fateful day was 26-year-old Robert Mitchell.  Both men were Protestants.

A 19-year-old Scottish man of Irish descent was later jailed for life over the murders.  He had helped deliver the van to its target and was thought to have narrowly escaped the explosion having just parked the vehicle seconds earlier.  He had only arrived in Northern Ireland eight months earlier and a police inspector told the court he was a 'small fish'.  Another suspect who had fled to Dublin was later the subject of a long extradition process.

On the day of the Limavady bombing there were several other attacks around the Province.  In the village of Moy, Co Tyrone, four terrorists robbed the post office and left a bomb on the counter, giving staff a 15 minute warning.  However, the attack was foiled when a female employee bravely picked up the device and took it outside, warning people to clear the street.  When it exploded only a few windows were broken and no-one was injured.

A bomb attack a Rosslea, Co Fermanagh, blew an army scout car off the road, but its occupants were uninjured.  There were multiple gun attacks in both Belfast and Londonderry.  Terrorists fired on three separate army posts in Londonderry, but no soldiers were injured.  In Belfast two Protestant civilians were shot and injured in the north of the city, while elsewhere the army returned fire on gunmen.  Several buildings were set on fire and a bomb exploded in a shopping centre in north Belfast, causing damage to several shops.