Two hoax bomb incidents in Derry this week have been linked to a series of heavy-handed PSNI raids and arrests in the city.
On Wednesday, the PSNI arrested three members of one family in early morning raids in the Creggan area. Local councillor Gary Donnelly of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement said a number of children were left traumatised by the searches, which took place over five hours.
“In one of the searches, children watched their parents being arrested at gunpoint,” he said.
Those arrested were released unconditionally the following day.
Later in the week, two vans were hijacked in the city and “suspicious objects” loaded onto the vehicles. One driver was told to leave his vehicle at the Strand Road PSNI station, a common target for IRA attacks in the city.
British army technical officers declared both alerts to be elaborate hoaxes.
Creggan Sinn Fein councillor, Kevin Campbell said the actions had come “in direct response” to the PSNI raids. “There have been a number of arrests in the last three or four days,” he said. “People have been questioned and I would say it’s in direct response to that.”
The trouble in Derry comes ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire announcement by the Provisional IRA.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Raymond McCartney condemned the hoaxes. He said those behind the incidents showed no regard for the drivers of the vehicles or the people of Derry.
“They are offering nothing to society and need to stop these actions immediately,” he said.