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Probe: British Police Covered Up Role of Protestant Outlaws in 10 Belfast Killings

A top police official in Northern Ireland says British police in the 1990s colluded with Protestant outlaws behind at least 10 Belfast killings, 10 attempted killings and a host of shootings and bombings.

In a 160-page report, police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said former members of Britain's Special Branch paid Protestant informants for cooperation while allowing them to pursue killings, bombings and other crimes.

In the report, released Monday, O'Loan called on police to reopen dozens of cases from the 1990s, to investigate ex-police officers and their ties to the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde, the commander of the predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland police force, apologized today for the crimes and said he accepts O'Loan's conclusions in full.

In London, a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair called O'Loan's report "deeply disturbing," and said the crimes never should have occurred.

The public version of the report did not identify the now-retired suspect British police by name. However, British media say a secret version with the names has been delivered to Constable Orde and several other officials.

The document also notes that drastic police reforms were initiated in 2003 to ensure that such abuses never happen again.

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