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2009 game footage appears in ITV show as 1988 IRA vid

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An ITV documentary rehashing well-known links between terrorist/freedom-fighter organisation the Provisional IRA (PIRA) and one-time Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has drawn fire for seemingly presenting a sequence of game video masquerading as real footage.

During the documentary, Exposure - Gaddafi and the IRA, which was shown on British televison last night, the voiceover says: "With Gaddafi's heavy machine guns it was possible to shoot down a helicopter, as the terrorists' own footage of 1988 shows."

This was accompanied by blurry footage of a heavy machine gun mounted on a jeep, with the words "IRA film 1988" superimposed on top.

While the troops in the video fire at the distant helicopter, causing remarkable regular puffs of smoke to be emitted by the chopper, the commentary continues: "This was what the security forces feared most… It may have been a lucky hit, but for the Army and crew, once was enough. No one died in this attack..."

It has been widely reported for decades that Gadaffi supplied the Provisionals with a wide array of weaponry including Soviet-pattern 12.7mm calibre heavy machine guns. These weapons were a source of concern to British helicopter crews operating in Northern Ireland before the PIRA ceasefire in the 1990s, though in fact security forces feared many other things much more - bombs, ambushes and the possibility of PIRA acquiring anti-aircraft missiles all caused much greater concern. Helicopters were wrecked by IRA action, but always during mortar bombardments of chopper pads - the heavy machine-guns never made an effective attack.

The fact nobody died might seem to be rather obvious to some, because this is just a clip from Bohemia Interactive's tactical shooter Arma 2, released in 2009. In fact, even to the naked eye the footage looks clearly computer generated.

A number of viewers vented their disgust this morning on the developer's website.

As PC Gamer points out, the source of the ITV footage appears to be a YouTube clip which, though uploaded this year, contains captions that claims the footage shows an IRA attack on a British helicopter on 23 June 1988.

ITV has yet to respond to our inquiries about how the game footage came to be used.

If you fancy watching the entire show, it's still available on the ITV Player, viewable to UK residents. The gaffe begins 28 minutes in. ®

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