Bombs on Oxford Street

The illegal Irish Republican Army has stopped killing its own through hunger strikes and resumed the killing of others with bombs. The end of the fasts by IRA prisoners in Northern Ireland came when the human feeling of strikers' families prevailed and they called for steps to save lives, even though Britain had refused the prisoners' demands. Is it beyond all possibility for human feeling to prevail on a wider scene and check the new slaughter of innocents, even though an IRA statement says attacks will continue until British troops leave Ulster? The bombings of civilians in London -- and the IRA threat that even children will not be immune -- must at least give pause to any but the most heartless of IRA supporters at home or abroad.

It rings hollow for the IRA to suggest that, unlike the British troops whose bullets have struck Northern Irish children, the IRA gives warnings. Warnings of three bombs on busy Oxford Street this week did permit police to evacuate terrorized civilians. But a bomb disposal expert was killed when one of the bombs went off. Earlier in the month two civilians were killed and a general crippled.

Hope for controlling such mayhem lies in the increased cooperation between British and Irish Republic police as well as in the renewed efforts by British and Irish leaders toward long-term resolution of Northern Ireland's political and sectarian strife. On the same day as the Oxford Street episode, police from both sides of the Irish border joined forces to prevent an IRA ambush of British troops on whom a bomb was targeted.

Recent events are one more grim reminder for everyone to join forces against the terrorism, sharing the feeling of those hunger strikers' families who finally placed their sons' and brothers' lives above an outlawed army's desperate tactics.

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