Senior officer shot by masked men in 'barbaric' attack as he coached youth sports team

A police officer is in a critical but stable condition in hospital after being shot by masked men in Omagh.

The senior officer was shot multiple times in front of young people he had been coaching at a sports centre just before 8pm in Co Tyrone.

Irish media are reporting police are searching for two suspects who were dressed in black.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have launched an attempted murder investigation.

Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said: "Our investigation is now underway and I would appeal to anyone who was in the area and witnessed what happened or could help with our enquiries to make contact with police on 101."

The PSNI are working with their Irish counterparts, amid suspicion that the gunmen may have fled to the Republic.

In a statement last night, the Garda said it is "currently responding to an ongoing incident which took place earlier this evening in Northern Ireland".

"A Garda Siochana has intensified patrolling in border counties."

Liam Kelly, chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents rank-and-file officers, described the attack as "barbaric and cold-blooded".

"The officer is well known and respected in the area and plays an active role in the community. He is also well-known within policing circles and is highly regarded by his colleagues.

"The people who carried out this cowardly and shocking act must be quickly identified and apprehended and I would appeal to the community to assist the police in whatever way they can.

"My thoughts, and those of all police officers, are with our colleague and his family. The police family is strong and resilient, and we'll be there for him and his family in this dreadful hour of need."

The shooting has been condemned by politicians across the UK and Ireland.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was appalled by the "disgraceful shooting of an off-duty police officer in Omagh".

"My thoughts are with the officer and his family," he said, adding: "There is no place in our society for those who seek to harm public servants protecting communities."

Irish premier Leo Varadkar condemned the "grotesque act of attempted murder".

"Our thoughts are with the injured officer, his family, colleagues and friends at this difficult time," the Taoiseach said.

"I utterly condemn this grotesque act of attempted murder.

"I call on anyone with information about it to share it with the PSNI."

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said it was an "outrageous and shameful attack".

"My immediate thoughts are with the officer and his family," she said.

"I unreservedly condemn this reprehensible attempt to murder a police officer."

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson described the shooting as "terrible news from Omagh".

"Our heart goes out to the family of this courageous police officer and to his colleagues," he said.

"We condemn outright the cowards responsible for this.

"These terrorists have nothing to offer and they must be brought to justice.

"We stand with the PSNI."