Following the announcement of a regrouping of the IRA last week, the Belfast-based Oglaigh na hEireann has said it carried out a gun and mortar rocket attack in west Belfast last weekend.
The PSNI police said a shot hit one of their armoured vehicles in the area known as the turning circle at the top of the Glen Road at around 4am on Friday. Subsequent media reports said a mortar attack took place at the same time.
This [Friday] morning, over a week since that incident, the PSNI announced they were evacuating over a hundred homes, ostensibly for the purposes of carrying out a gigantic search in the area.
A Belfast-based newspaper in regular contact with the ONH group said this week that it had seen a video of the attack, in which a mortar was fired, narrowly missing the PSNI Land Rover.
The vehicle was driving along the upper part of the Glen Road close to an industrial estate at the junction with Hannahstown Hill, followed by an unmarked police vehicle.
The report said that as the armoured vehicle approaches the junction, a large flash was seen. A mortar narrowly misses the first vehicle before exploding at the roadside.
The device was said to have been a horizontal mortar, not previously used by a breakaway IRA group, detonated by mobile phone. The video has been placed online, it is claimed, although its location on the internet remains unknown.
“There have been a number of attacks carried out in this area,” said local Sinn Féin representative Paul Maskey.
He added”the vast majority of people in the community are opposed to this and want these people to go away”.
As part of an extraordinary PSNI operation this morning, over 100 families and a number of business premises in an area between Suffolk Road, Glen Road and Shaws Road, were being forced to move into a community centre in Carrigart Avenue.
Last weekend’s mortar incident came the day after a number of breakaway groups announced they would be regrouping to form a single IRA.
Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin representative for North Belfast, said the merger of the various groups would not achieve anything.
“The coming together of several dissident groups is not surprising given the fractious nature of those who are behind such groupings. They have over the past number of years come and gone, split and reformed on an ongoing basis.”
He described the latest development as further evidence that they have “no strategy.”
“There is no community support for these groups. They need to desist, and they need to realise that they cannot achieve a united Ireland in this way.”
Mr Kelly said: “There is a political strategy in place which the vast majority of Irish republicans and nationalists, along with the overwhelming majority of the people on this island, have endorsed.”
ONH TO CONTINUE
Despite a wave of criticism of the republican armed groups in the wake of last week’s announcement, Oglaigh na hEireann said it would also continue its armed struggle -- as a separate organisation, operating under the Irish language name for the IRA.
The ONH also claimed responsibility for separate incidents in north Belfast on the Twelfth of July. It said it had twice fired shots at PSNI lines and thrown a blast bomb in response to the police’s deployment of plastic bullets during disturbances over a forced anti-Catholic march through the Ardoyne area.
Meanwhile, a number of alerts across Belfast have caused significant traffic problems this week, with four separate alerts in the Lisburn Road and Dunmurry areas. No group has been linked to the alerts.
Last Friday morning, loyalists are believed to have targeted a republican family when a pipe bomb exploded close to a home in Derry’s Waterside.
Two children were camping in the front garden at the time and were terrified by the incident.
“We rushed downstairs and the kids ran in petrified. I also have a two month old baby who was also wakened,” their mother said.
A suspected pipe bomb was also discovered outside a PSNI installation in County Armagh on Wednesday morning. The device, which was found close to Brownlow PSNI base in Craigavon, sparked a major security operation.