18/08/2008

Semtex Used In Fermanagh Attack

It has emerged that the IRA's main bomb-making material Semtex was used in a weekend dissident republican attack on police in Co Fermanagh.

It is the first time dissidents have used the commercial explosive previously used by the Provisional IRA.

The new attack came just days after the PSNI Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde warned that dissident republican elements were 'hell-bent' on killing his officers.

It involved a failed grenade attack which targeting three police officers on foot patrol in Fermanagh.

NIO Security Minister Paul Goggins claimed it was carried out by "criminals" trying to return Northern Ireland to its "violent past", and while he has vowed that those responsible will not succeed because the Province has moved on, a local MLA has demanded urgent action to curb the growing number of attacks, including a recall of the army if needed.

While dissident republicans are being blamed for the attack on a three-officer foot patrol on Lisnaskea's Lower Main Street, speaking at the scene, local Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliot, demanded action, including the return of the army to NI streets if necessary.

The three police officers were treated for severe shock and minor injuries after the rocket-propelled grenade was at about 11pm on Saturday - although it failed to explode.

Shortly after the attack, a car was found burning at Chapel Brae. Police are investigating a possible link.

Army technical officers attended the scene with nearby homes evacuated during the operation and the town's main street was closed too.

Security Minister Paul Goggins condemned the attack: "The criminals who carried out this attack are trying to take Northern Ireland back to its violent past.

"They will not succeed, society has moved on," he said.

The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board Professor Sir Desmond Rea also condemned the attack.

"Those who carried out this deplorable attack have nothing to offer our society - they have no support from the community or any political party and will deliver nothing to our community," he said.

Professor Rea had also warned last week that dissidents were posing a threat to progress being made in policing.

As he introduced the Northern Ireland Policing Board's seventh annual report he said that despite a year of progress and moving forward, "the spectre of times past had also reared its ugly head".

"For the first time in a long time in the last year, the people of Northern Ireland witnessed terrorist attacks on police officers by those who have nothing to offer our society.

"In their delusion, terrorists must not be allowed to undermine the genuine progress that has been made and I trust that all those who want to live in a future that bears no resemblance to the past will unite to deny the dissidents any foothold in the present," Sir Desmond said.

See: Neighbourhood Patrols Prioritised Says Policing Board

(BMcC)

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