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Ex-soldier arrested for North Ireland 'Bloody Sunday' killings

A former soldier has been arrested in connection with the infamous "Bloody Sunday" shooting in Northern Ireland in 1972. The arrest is the first after a renewed murder investigation was initiated by police in 2012.

A 66 year-old ex-soldier was arrested by police on Tuesday for his involvement with the "Bloody Sunday" shooting in North Ireland when Roman Catholic civil rights protesters were shot by British soldiers.

"Detectives from Legacy Investigation Branch investigating the events of Bloody Sunday have arrested a 66 year old man in County Antrim," the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.

"The suspect is being interviewed at a police station in Belfast," the Service said, saying that the arrest marked "a new phase in the overall investigation which would continue for some time." Tuesday's arrest is the first since a renewed murder investigation into the incident was launched in 2012.

The defense ministry said in a statement that it was "aware an ex-soldier has been arrested," but mentioned that "it would be inappropriate to comment further on an ongoing criminal investigation at this stage."

Irland Nordirland Bloody Sunday Kundgebung Katholiken Londonderry Derry 1972

An inquiry into the 1972 shooting found that British troops gave false accounts in order to justify the shooting

'Unjustified and unjustifiable'

On January 30, 1972, British soldiers fired on Roman Catholic marchers during an unauthorized protest in Londonderry, North Ireland. Thirteen people were killed on site, 14 were wounded and one person later died. The protesters were unarmed.

A 12-year inquiry into the shootings found that the civilians were killed without justification and without posing any threat to soldiers. The investigation was the longest and most expensive in British legal history and also found out that soldiers gave false accounts to justifiy the shooting.

After the report was published in 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron apologized, describing the troop's actions as "unjustified and unjustifiable."

The "Bloody Sunday" massacre signaled a turning point in Northern Ireland's 30-year sectarian conflict known as "The Troubles" which pitted Catholics - who wanted a united Ireland - against Protestants - who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom. Over 3,600 people died before a 1998 peace deal was signed and largely stopped the violence.

rs/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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