1976 – The IRA Execute TEN Protestant Civilians in Kingsmill Massacre.

The Republican Action Force, a cover name for the IRA, admits to the brutal murder of ten Protestant workmen in what becomes known as the Kingsmill Massacre. The Kingsmill massacre took place on 5 January 1976 near the village of Kingsmill in south County Armagh. Ten Protestant men were taken from a minibus and shot dead by Irish republicans. This was in revenge for the killing of six Catholic men on 4 January by loyalists.

Gunmen stopped eleven Protestant workmen travelling on a minibus, lined them up beside it and shot them. A Catholic workman was unharmed. One of the shot men survived, despite having been shot 18 times. A group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force claimed responsibility and said the attack was retaliation for the killing of six Catholics the night before. The Kingsmill massacre was the deadliest and last in a string of tit-for-tat killings in the area during the mid-1970s.

A 2011 report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found that members of the Provisional IRA carried out the attack despite the organisation being on ceasefire. It has been claimed that the IRA members acted without the sanction of the IRA Army Council. The HET report said that the men were targeted because they were from the Protestant community and that, although it was a response to the night before, it had been planned some time in advance. The weapons were linked to another 110 attacks.

Two days after the massacre, the British Government announced that the Special Air Service (SAS) was moving into South Armagh. This was the first official acknowledgement of the deployment of SAS troops.

Photo: The bullet-riddled minibus which had been transporting the 11 Protestant workers who were gunned down as they lined up beside the vehicle.

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