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Northern Ireland: Two more arrests over ‘New IRA’ mortar bomb

Two men have been arrested by police in Northern Ireland investigating the discovery of an improvised mortar bomb.

The pair, both aged 25, were detained in the Strabane area using terrorism laws and a series of searches were conducted, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said on Tuesday.


In the attempted bombing in September, a hijacked pizza delivery van was used to place the device in Church View in Strabane in County Tyrone. The vehicle was later found, burned out.

Detectives believe the New IRA was responsible for the incident in September. They have said it was intended to attack police.

To date, detectives have arrested five people and charged a 28-year-old man with perverting the course of justice; assisting offenders and recording information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Detective Inspector Andrew Hamlin said: “I believe that the New IRA members behind this attack are living in the community, amongst the people whose lives they put at risk.

“Our focus is on keeping the community safe and protecting them from the threat posed by these violent groups but we need the help of the public.

“Our chances of success are vastly improved by support and information from the community, as today’s search and arrest operation demonstrates.”

The New IRA is understood to be an alliance of smaller armed republican groups, including an East Tyrone group thought to be responsible for the 2011 murder of police officer Ronan Kerr.

The group has also claimed responsibility for the killing of journalist Lyra McKee amid rioting instigated by the Real IRA following a police raid searching for explosives in Londonderry, 14 miles (22.5km) to the north of Strabane along the River Foyle, the border between the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Fears are growing that the potential imposition of a post-Brexit border between the Republic of Ireland, a European Union member, and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, would create a resurgence of republican armed groups – or at least provide the Real IRA with new targets.

But murals displayed in some of the most hardcore areas of Derry in the wake of McKee’s death suggested a change of attitudes among republican communities towards armed groups and a desire to keep the violence of the past in the past.

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