A mortar rocket attack against a PSNI patrol in west Belfast last weekend involved new technology and equipment, according to a statement issued this week in the name of the IRA.
In its statement, the organisation said it had struck a PSNI Land Rover vehicle with an Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP). It said the attack was launched by command wire as the patrol passed along the Falls Road.
“Our development of this type of device is further evidence of the increasing expertise and ingenuity of our Engineering Department,” it said. “The precision of the device is evidenced by the fact that it struck its intended target.”
The explosion was widely heard across Belfast. The PSNI said it had been struck by “shrapnel” in the attack, but denied taking a direct hit.
The ‘new’ IRA also claimed it used newly acquired Semtex explosives in the new type of mortar was used, as well as commercial detonators.
Friday’s attack was the first time an ‘ERP’ has been fired, although the devices have been intercepted by the Crown forces before.
Sinn Fein MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey condemned Friday’s rocket attack calling it “reckless”.
There were also bomb alerts in the Donegall Avenue area of south Belfast in north Belfast and the Antrim Road area of north Belfast on Sunday and Tuesday respectively. The first device was described by British officials as a “crude bomb”, the second declared a hoax.
Earlier this month the group said it had sent two letter bombs to prison warders based at Maghaberry prison in response to their treatment of republican prisoners. That statement also warned that the PSNI would continue to be ‘legitimate targets’.
The following is the text of the statement issued to the media on Tuesday, March 18th:
“On Friday March 14 2014 at 10.30pm an Active Service Unit of the Irish Republican Army embarked on an operation against British state forces, namely a PSNI patrol. This attack involved the I.R.A striking a PSNI Land Rover as it passed the City Cemetery on Belfast’s Falls Road.
The I.R.A had a second ASU with automatic weapons close by with the intention of engaging personnel who exited vehicles. The device used in the offensive action was an Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP), detonated via command wire.
These devices form a major part of the I.R.A’s already substantial weapons inventory. Our development of this type of device is further evidence of the increasing expertise and ingenuity of our Engineering Department. The precision of the device is evidenced by the fact that it struck its intended target.
The PSNI are the vangaurd of British occupation in Ireland. They are heavily armed protectors of the state enforcing British law in Ireland. They engage in the harassment of Irish Citizens on a daily basis, arrest republicans, and facilitate the work of MI5 with the full knowledge and backing of the British Government. For These reasons the PSNI are legitimate targets for the I.R.A.
The I.R.A has demonstrated its ability to excecute PSNI personnel in the past and will continue to do so in the future.”