'Dissident' explosives sent to Army

Published Thursday, 13 February 2014
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Suspect packages sent to Army offices in England this week are understood to have contained explosive black powder and to have been sent from the Republic of Ireland - with dissident republicans thought to be behind the attacks.

'Dissident' explosives sent to Army
An Army office in Canterbury which received one of the suspect parcels. (© PA)

Senior police sources have told UTV the 'New IRA' sent the devices to armed forces offices in Oxford, Reading, Chatham, Aldershot and Canterbury.

A total of seven have been mailed altogether - four were intercepted on Thursday in addition to three which were found earlier this week.

UTV correspondent Sharon O'Neill said: "Like all letterbombs they are very crude in nature but can still cause injury. The problem with them in terms of finding those responsible is they're hard to trace.

"But it is emerging tonight that two of them came from the Republic. Were any posted from here?We don't know yet - but what we do know is that the PSNI and An Garda Síochána are working closely with police forces in England."

The A4 envelopes were discovered by Army officers, but it is not clear whether the packages could have exploded. A shopping centre in Slough also received one of the potentially explosive parcels.

A Number 10 spokeswoman described them as "crude", but said injuries could have been caused.

She added that they bore "hallmarks of Northern Ireland-related terrorism". And she said the level of national terrorist threat in Great Britain - currently set at 'moderate', while NI is assessed to be 'severe' - remains under constant review.

Staff at all military establishments are said to have been warned to be vigilant, while Royal Mail has also been briefed on the issue.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee to discuss the packages.

Intelligence chiefs as well as government officials and senior police officers attended the briefing.

Detective Superintendant Stan Gilmore, of the South East counter-terrorism unit, said the devices are believed to pose a "low-level" threat.

"The contents of the packages are suspicious in nature and will now be sent off for forensic examination," he explained.

"Even if the contents are determined to be a viable device, they pose a very low-level threat and are unlikely to cause significant harm or damage.

"When a suspect package is reported we have a routine response which means we may need to evacuate the area if necessary until we can be sure it poses no threat to the public.

"While this can cause concern and disruption for local communities, it is a necessary precaution until we know what we are dealing with."

Political representatives have condemned the attacks.

Nigel Dodds, DUP MP, said: "It is by God's grace that no one has been injured by these crude devices. Those behind the deadly packages are to be condemned. Those who cling to terrorism should realise that it failed in the past and it will do so again.

"It will only lead to further hurt and suffering. Northern Ireland has turned a corner. We are moving forward and no one wants to go back to the bad old days."

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said: "We must all be thankful that the letter bombs were dealt with before they caused death or injury.

"My thoughts are with the servicemen and women who continue to go about their duties defending this country despite the threat from those who hide behind masks and skulk in the shadows."

Shadow Secretary of State Ivan Lewis said: "Their attempt to harm innocent people will be condemned by the people of Northern Ireland, including by those they claim to represent."

Stewart Dickson MLA, Alliance, said: "I would like to express my gratitude to the Police and Army officers who put their lives at risk to deal with these letter bombs.

"I would urge anybody with any information about these devices to contact the police."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
paul in larne wrote (344 days ago):
the dissidents couldnt make a cup of tea, probably using their British dole money to fund their silly plans
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (346 days ago):
Hopefully now that these IRA Splinter Groups are attacking the mainland maybe the Westminster government will give enough resources to stamp out these scum.
realistic in planet earth wrote (346 days ago):
cowards, deluded scum cowards!!
david campbell in glasgow wrote (346 days ago):
don,t these mindless numbskulls realise the terror days are gone, people want to have a life now and these attention seekers should realise the futility and stupidity of their actions, they should not be given a platform or any publicity which is what they seek, it,s just boring and tiresome, plus you are all informants and drug dealing wannabes, get a life saddo,s
Bill in Belfast wrote (346 days ago):
These people need to sort themselves out living in the past does nothing for anyone just sad wee people with sad wee lives with nothing to do!
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