The military grenade used in the recent attack on police in west Belfast is part of a cache smuggled into Ireland by the dissident republican faction Oglaigh na hEireann, the group has claimed.
According to a leadership source, a small shipment of munitions was successfully imported from Eastern Europe.
The ONH source claimed it included “an array of arms” — grenades, detonators, plastic explosives and light and heavy weapons.
He would not be any more specific on quantities or timescale.
Within the past fortnight one of the Russian-style grenades was tossed at three police officers responding to a robbery at a bookmaker’s shop on the Shaw’s Road.
The source, who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph, revealed the weapon is green coloured, has a stem and is oval-shaped with a type of “pebble-dash” rather than smooth finish.
There is also some writing on the grenade identifying its Russian origin.
After the recent attack, police revealed the device had the capability to kill within a five-metre radius, and a senior detective said the ambush could have ended in “mass murder”.
One of the officers hurt was treated for a serious arm injury.
Dissident republicans believe the officers’ lives were saved because the grenade hit a kerb.
Oglaigh na hEireann is the armed dissident faction behind the attack at Palace Barracks — the car bomb explosion at the military base in Holywood that is the headquarters of MI5 in Northern Ireland.
That explosion in April was deliberately timed to coincide with the transfer of justice powers to Stormont.
The dissident organisation has also targeted members of the security forces in under-car booby- trap bomb attacks using detonators and plastic explosives that are said to be part of the same arms shipment smuggled from Eastern Europe.
An Army major escaped injury when a booby-trap bomb device fell from his vehicle.
In a recent interview with this newspaper, Oglaigh na hEireann said it was deliberately targeting areas considered to be “safe zones” for the security forces.
That activity has included attacks in east Belfast, Holywood and Bangor: “It was to send a direct message that nowhere is safe,” a member of the organisation’s so-called Army Council told this newspaper.
Now, there is this claim that the group has successfully smuggled weapons from Eastern Europe into Ireland.
The information is coming from inside and from the top of the armed group, an organisation that is part of the dissident republican world and is now considered by security and intelligence experts to pose the most serious threat to the security forces.