The Provisional wing of the illegal Irish Republican Army appears to have shifted tactics from the restraint shown after the passing of hunger strikers Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes. Five British soldiers in a Saracen armored car were killed near the border with the Irish Republic when a 1,000-pound bomb exploded under the road, military personnel said.
A senior member of the Provisional IRA said the guerrilla organization was responsible for the blast. The source said the explosion was its answer to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's refusal to accept demands by jailed guerrillas for political prisoner status.
A third hunger striker, Raymond McCreesh, had been without food for 59 days Tuesday and was reported near death.
"Since she has decided to let the hunger strikers die, Mrs. Thatcher can expect more of this in the future," the spokesman said.
It was the biggest blow for British troops in Northern Ireland since the IRA killed 18 soldiers with bombs and guns at Warrenpoint Aug. 27, 1979. That was the day Lord Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth's cousin, was asssassinated while on a fishing vacation in the Irish Republic.