ONH calls off attack

The breakaway IRA group known as ‘Oglaigh na hEireann’ said this week it had to abandon an attack against the PSNI in north Belfast after a civilian became endangered.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated and businesses were forced to close as the PSNI police sealed off the area around the device for three days.

The PSNI engaged in heavy propaganda attacks on the group throughout the three-day disruption, without any response from the dissidents.

Speaking to reporters near where the bomb was found on the Antrim Road, Chief Superintendent Mark Hamilton said on Wednesday: “I can confirm there is an anti-personnel bomb ... which was a viable device and which was designed to kill people in the area.”

However, it later emerged that the device was inert, because the firing pack had been unhooked and removed.

But PSNI Chief Baggott went further, even comparing the incident with the 1998 Omagh bombing -- despite well-known evidence of Crown force involvement in that atrocity.

And in an aparent attempt to make the newspapers, SDLP spokesman for Justice Alban Maginness claimed there was “potential to be a massacre”. He said the incident signalled a rise in ability by dissidents to a “worrying new level”.

In a call to a local journalist, Oglaigh na hEireann claimed responsibility for the attack. The group said their Volunteers were about to trigger a command wire when a woman civilian approached their target. Abandoning the attack, they dismantled the battery pack to make the device safe and left the area.

While many republicans viewed the incident with suspicion, Sinn Fein strongly condemned the dissidents. Local assembly member Gerry Kelly said the “people involved have no support for any of these actions and I condemn it outright. They have put countless lives at risk by their reckless actions.”

A second alert which again cause widespread traffic disruption in the York Road area of north Belfast on Friday was described by the PSNI as a “hoax”.

* On Wednesday, a pipe bomb was found in the garden of a house on the Ballymena Road in Carnlough, County Antrim. A caller to a Belfast newsroom who described themselves the Loyalist Action Force (LAF) later said they were behind the incident.

In a separate alert, a suspicious object was found in nearby Larne, which was later declared a hoax.

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