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Four Protestant men arrested over New IRA’s attempted murder of top cop John Caldwell

It comes after four republicans were released from custody “unconditionally”.

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was hit multiple times

Forensics at the scene

Steven MooreSunday World

Four Protestants, including a former loyalist, are now in custody – arrested in connection with the New IRA’s attempted murder of top cop DCI John Caldwell, we can exclusively reveal.

Two of those men were arrested earlier this afternoon less than 24 hours after four republicans were released from custody “unconditionally”.

Police announced just before 4pm this afternoon that detectives from the Major Investigation Team who are investigating last Wednesday’s gun attack have lifted two more men.

In a statement they said: “A 33 year old man was arrested in Omagh and a 57 year old man was arrested in Belfast earlier today. Both were arrested under the Terrorism Act and taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite for questioning.”

They also confirmed the two men who remained in custody after last night’s releases continue to still be held. “Two men, aged 47 and 71, also arrested in connection with the attempted murder remain in police custody at this time,” said the short statement.

They are also being held at Musgrave Serious Crime Suite in Belfast.

Forensics at the scene

The 47-year-old is one of the first men to be arrested after he was lifted in a dawn raid at his home in the Hospital Road area of Omagh last Thursday - less than 12 hours after the shooting.

The 71-year-old was arrested on Saturday night and it’s understood he is a former loyalist, also from the mainly unionist area of the Hospital Road.

One of the men arrested today (Wednesday) is related to one of the men already in custody.

But we can reveal all four men now in custody – the only men who remain in custody – are all Protestants.

On Tuesday night four men – all well-known republicans – were released from police custody.

Det Ch Insp John Caldwell remains in a critical but stable condition following the shooting in the car park of a sports complex in Omagh on 22 February.

On Tuesday, police said an extension had been granted to allow more time to question the 47-year-old man.

The dissident republican group the New IRA has admitted the shooting in the County Tyrone town as Mr Caldwell was coaching a kids soccer team.

Police say two masked gunmen fired ten shots at the officer who bravely tried to shield his own son and other kids from the attack by telling them to run.

The men released on Tuesday are aged 22, 38, 43 and 45.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the PSNI said its investigation continued and it called for witnesses to come forward.

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