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British commandos Monday shot and killed three armed IRA guerrillas who were on a covert mission, British news reports said.

Police would say only that three men, believed to be connected with the Irish Republican Army, were found dead in a burned-out car after an encounter with an army patrol in the village of Coagh, 30 miles west of Belfast.Sinn Fein, the IRA's legal political wing, identified the dead men as Peter Ryan, Tony Dorris and Lawrence McNally. Press Association, the British domestic news agency, reported security forces regarded the three as leading IRA gunmen.

Police said they were not involved in the operation but said uniformed soldiers fired the shots.