A surge in activity by republican militants in the Strabane area of county Tyrone has seen the PSNI police twice targeted by explosive devices and a nearby village declared a ‘no go’ area for the force.
A British army bomb-disposal squad was called in to defuse devices within 24 hours, one in the centre of Strabane shortly after 1am on Tuesday, and a second discovered planted near the Ballycolman road on Monday.
The larger landmine-type device was hidden by a local golf course and was packed with bolts, nails and gun powder, the PSNI said. Area Commander Andy Lemon said it showed a “greater level of sophistication” which was “worrying”.
And last week, a group using the name of the ‘Republican Movement’ declared the village of Clady outside Strabane to be a ‘no go’ area for the PSNI.
The group said it would not tolerate PSNI involvement in a proposed ‘community watch scheme’. It those involved they face severe repercussions if they continued.
According to a report in the Strabane chronicle, a spokesperson said members of the local community held talks with the PSNI at a house in Clady on March 6.
“The individuals are known to us and we advise them to cease these talks immediately or severe action will be taken against them.”
The threat coincides with the recent appearance of signs bearing the PSNI acronym ‘People Should Not Inform - MI5’ .
The ‘Republican Movement’ surfaced in Strabane around six months and has since issued expulsion orders against a number of individuals in the town. Two shooting incidents earlier this month have also been linked to it.
Local Sinn Fein Assembly member Michaela Boyle said the attack attempts had only caused hardship and disruption to the local community.
“Apart from being reckless and putting local residents, including children, in danger these attempts have done nothing to bring Irish freedom closer,” she said.
“These people need to take stock from the reaction of the vast majority of the residents of Strabane and stop this futile campaign immediately.
“Apart from disruption, hardship and filling the jails they have achieved absolutely nothing apart from sullying the good name of republicanism.”