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Northern Ireland Protestant Extremist Charged with Attempted Murder After Attack


The Protestant extremist who triggered an evacuation of the Northern Ireland Assembly Friday has been charged with trying to murder five people, including Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

51-year-old Michael Stone, a supporter of British rule, is accused of throwing a bag of home-made explosives into the entrance of Belfast's parliament building during a meeting between pro-Irish and pro-British leaders who were debating self-rule for the northern province.

Stone also is charged with possessing explosives with the intent to endanger life, possessing an imitation firearm, and possessing items for terrorist purposes.

He was ordered held until a hearing next month.

Stone gained notoriety 20 years ago after he single-handedly attacked 20,000 mourners at an IRA funeral with bullets and grenades. Three people were killed and 60 wounded.

Stone was sentenced to more than 700 years in prison but was later paroled as part of the U.S.-brokered Good Friday pact that ended three decades of widespread fighting between Catholics and Protestants.

Despite Friday's attack, the British and Irish governments have vowed to press ahead with a plan to restore Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration, which was suspended four years ago.

British authorities intend to dissolve the Northern Ireland Assembly in January and hold new elections in March.

The original power-sharing administration broke apart in 2002 after Protestant Unionists accused the pro-independence IRA of espionage.

The coalition was established in 1998, under the Good Friday agreement.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.