A special unit of British soldiers operating in Northern Ireland during its era of sectarian conflict killed unarmed civilians, former members have revealed to the BBC.
Known as the MRF (the Military Reaction Force), the group consisted of handpicked soldiers from across the British Army and operated undercover in west Belfast, the heartland of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), during the early 1970s. Some former members have now spoken out for the first time to the BBC under conditions of anonymity.
The former soldiers said that though surveillance was part of their work, they were also “hunting down hardcore baby-killers, terrorists, people that would kill you without even thinking about it.” The soldiers admitted shooting and killing unarmed civilians, reports the BBC, which also gathered information about ten unarmed civilians allegedly shot by the MRF in 1972.
The revelations come in the wake of controversial comments made by the Northern Ireland attorney general, John Larkin, earlier this week. Larkin called for an end to prosecutions in relation to killings during the country’s three decades of conflict, known as the Troubles, during which 3,500 were killed. Both victim groups and politicians in Northern Ireland have rejected the idea. British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that Larkin’s comments were “very worrying” and that the government has no plans to legislate for an amnesty for crimes committed during the Troubles.