LONDON -- The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility yesterday for Tuesday's shooting of the former governor of Gibraltar, where three IRA members were killed by British security forces in 1988.
Sir Peter Terry, 63, who was also military commander-in-chief of "The Rock" until he retired last year, was hit by a burst of automatic gunfire as he sat reading in his home in the Midlands village of Milford, near the town of Stafford.
He was the latest in a series of public figures attacked by the IRA in England despite stepped-up security.
Sir Peter signed the order that allowed British security forces to open fire on three IRA suspects believed to be planting a bomb targeted against a military parade on Gibraltar two years ago.
He listed the address of his retirement home in "Who's Who" and thelocal telephone book and did not request any special police security.
The gunmen sprayed with bullets the room he was reading in, hitting him in the head, hip, stomach, leg and arm.
Sir Peter underwent surgery yesterday to have nine bullets removed, one just 2 millimeters from his brain. Doctors used six stainless steel plates in an effort to rebuild his shattered jaw.
Sir Peter's wife, in an adjacent room with their daughter, was slightly injured when she was hit by a bullet that pierced the wall.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, "The number of things that are happening now makes it important that we look once again to see if there is anything further we can do to step up our security and defense against this guerrilla war."
It was the first time she has referred to the conflict with the IRA as a "guerrilla war."
She denied she intended to attribute military status to the outlawedIRA, saying: "They are thugs. Thugs with guns and bombs. That's all.
"They are at war with us, and we can only fight them with civil law," she said.
Anti-terrorist police believe that an IRA cell is now based in the Midlands, where four other IRA bombing or shooting attacks have been carried out in the past two years.
The IRA has recently widened its strategy from attacking "soft" military targets in Great Britain to attacking unprotected political figures.