With the advent of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Provisional
IRA (PIRA) became active in the towns and villages of East Tyrone,
the volunteers forming the so-called East Tyrone Brigade and
carrying out attacks on members of the security forces. Drawing
volunteers from the region’s tight-knit Catholic communities, many
with republican sympathies dating back generations, the Brigade
became renowned for the deadly nature of its attacks and its
operational and technological innovations.
By the mid-1980s, with a hard core of experienced volunteers and a
mass of weaponry from Colonel Gaddafi’s Libyan government, the
East Tyrone Brigade were successfully prosecuting a ‘no-go zone’
strategy designed to change the face of the war in Northern Ireland.
Then, one spring night in May 1987, the Brigade launched an attack
on the Royal RUC’s isolated base in the Armagh village of Loughgall.