A GROUP which claims to be a successor to the Provisional IRA has claimed responsibility for the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black.
The group, a merger of factions that brands itself as simply “the IRA”, said in a statement its members murdered the 52 year-old because he worked as a guard at Northern Ireland’s top-security Maghaberry prison.
In a statement issued to a Belfast based newspaper, the group said it killed him “to protect and defend” republican prisoners.
“An active service unit of the IRA executed prison guard David Black,” the statement said.
“While the IRA never takes this type of action lightly, the IRA has a responsibility to protect and defend Republican POWs.”
The statement said the killing was a direct response to what it said was the “degradation” of Republican prisoners at Maghaberry, where republican prisoners have been protesting against living conditions and strip-searches.
Mr Black was driving to work, when he was attacked and killed.
There is an on-going dispute at the prison, where 41 dissident republican prisoners are detained.
Many of them are refusing to wash in protest at strip searches, and in a bid to secure political status.
Mr Black, a 52-year-old father of two, was the first prison officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland in almost 20 years.
A new organisation calling itself the IRA was formed during the summer, bringing together the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs, and a group of non-aligned republicans.
Four men have been arrested by police in connection with Mr Black’s murder, but all have been released without charge.