03 April 2006

Demolition of last towers begins


The last Army watchtowers in south Armagh are being demolished

Work has started to remove the last British army watchtowers in south Armagh, the military has said.

The removal of the towers was announced in August 2005, as part of the security normalisation process.

Dismantling the five towers on Camlough Mountain, Jonesborough Hill and Croslieve Hill began on Monday.

The hilltop sites will be returned to greenfield status and a 'blue light' emergency services radio mast will remain on Croslieve Hill.

The sangars - fortified defence posts - on top of the towers will be removed by RAF Chinook helicopter and Army engineers have been preparing the sites.

Eight towers have already been dismantled since December 1999 on Sturgan Mountain, Camlough Mountain, Glassdrumman, Cloghoge, Tievecrom, Sugerloaf Hill, Creevekeeran and Drummuckavall.

At present there are just over 9,000 troops in the province, but that will be reduced to no more than 5,000 by 1 August 2007.

The moves are part of the end of Operation Banner, the Army's support role for the police during the Troubles.

It has been running for 35 years and is the longest operation in British army history.

It will end on 1 August next year.

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