(Early 70's, Belfast, Northern Ireland) This story was recounted to me by a Lieutenant who knew the participants well.
In the early 70's, an undercover Military Intelligence squad was patrolling a notorious Belfast area in plainclothes. After the perilous evening, they emerged onto a York street and stopped for petrol and a few smokes. One of the soldiers asked the attendant if there was a pay phone, and the attendant pointed to the rear of the store.
As the soldier turned towards the phone, the attendant caught the flash of a concealed weapon.
Alarmed and fearing a terrorist hold-up, he vanished into the back room, where he phoned the local police station 100 yards up the street. But instead of phoning the front desk, which would have known of a military patrol in the area, he phoned a pal in the CID.
The CID was excited by the thought of a good action going down, and they also failed to consult with the local police. They drove out, mob handed, to rescue their friend from terrorists.
The soldiers were just preparing to leave the petrol station when a car screamed to a halt across the street and disgorged six plainclothes policemen brandishing an assortment of weapons. Believing they were under attacked by terrorists, the soldiers drew their own weapons, dove behind their vehicle, and opened fire. The police returned fire in earnest. For good measure, an off-duty officer around the corner drew his weapon and fired four shots in the air.
The exchange lasted many minutes before a lone voice sounded, "Stop! Police."
Another voice shouted back, "Cease Fire! Army."
Over 100 rounds were fired across the busy intersection during the exchange. Not a single person was hurt, and the story was kept from the media to protect the identities of the "intelligence" officers involved.
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