More than 38 years after what has come to be known as the “Bloody Sunday,” when 13 people were killed and many injured in the firing by the British army during a civil rights march in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, an inquiry commission on Tuesday held that the troops fired without provocation or prior warning and that all those killed were innocent.

Some of them were, in fact, trying to flee or help the injured, it said accusing the soldiers of “falsifying” their accounts to justify the firing.

The march, held on January 30, 1972, was organised by Irish Republican Army (IRA) activists in support of their demand for an end to direct British rule and until now the army had insisted that its men fired in self-defence.

It became one of the most contentious incidents of state violence in the history of Northern Ireland's sectarian conflict.

In an unprecedented gesture, British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to the people of Northern Ireland but victims' families insisted that those responsible for the killings must be prosecuted. A grim Mr. Cameron said what happened on “bloody Sunday” was “unjustified and unjustifiable.” There was no point, he said, in trying to “soften or equivocate.”

“What happened should never ever have happened,” he said, describing the commission's conclusions as “shocking.”

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