17/12/2007

Police Station Bomb Attack Is Latest Dissident Action

A potentially lethal explosive device hurled at a border police station at the weekend was the work of republican 'dissidents'.

The device - described by police as "viable" - was thrown at the base in Strabane late on Saturday night.

Army technical experts were called to the scene to deal with the device - which did not explode – and was found near the station's gates.

Now, although no one was injured in the incident, fears are growing of increased dissident republican activity in the area.

Senior security sources are in fact linking the 'Real IRA' to the incident and as a result, the police have urged the community to remain vigilant in the run-up to Christmas.

"The Real IRA, which works closely with INLA members, seems to be the biggest threat to the security forces in this area.

"They may be based in Co Tyrone but they have also been active in Co Londonderry and police are taking the threat this group poses very seriously.

"These devices are designed to kill and if a police officer had been standing nearby then we could have quite easily been dealing with a murder."

The attack comes after Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde admitted dissident republican weaponry had become "more sophisticated".

Although these 'dissidents' failed in two murder bids on police officers earlier this month, police are worried about their growing threat.

Since the start of 2007, these 'rebel' republicans have been responsible for murdering Belfast men Joe Jones and Ed Burns, fire-bomb attacks on Orange halls, hoax bomb alerts and punishment attacks.

Police believe the Real IRA and Continuity IRA pose the biggest threat, but they now have to contend with a new terror group calling itself the Irish Republican Liberation Army.

The IRLA recently staged a show of strength before issuing death threats against senior Sinn Fein members over their support for policing

Meanwhile, a Strabane Sinn Fein councillor, Brian McMahon, representing 'mainstream' republicans, condemned the latest attack, adding: " It is now time for these groups to leave the stage because these people have no support in the nationalist community.

"If this is an attempt by these people to test Sinn Fein's support for policing then it is a test they will fail."

(BMcC)

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