Belfast Telegraph

Dissidents 'planning more attacks'

A major reinvestigation of cold case dissident republican attacks has been launched as it emerged that the terror groups are continuing to target policemen in the wake of Pc Ronan Kerr's murder.

The public outcry following the young Catholic officer's death has had no influence on the mindset of the violent extremists, who remain focused on killing members of the security forces, according to senior police sources.

Detectives have evidence the dissidents have been actively targeting Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) personnel since blowing up 25-year-old Pc Kerr in Omagh, Co Tyrone, on Saturday.

Officers do not want the nature of the intelligence to be made public for investigative reasons, but they say murder plots are being uncovered at a rate of one a fortnight.

In a further development, it has emerged that, just 24 hours before the fatal car bomb blast in Omagh, police had ordered a specialist team of detectives to begin sifting through evidence from historic dissident attacks in a bid to ramp up the pressure on the terrorists.

The cold case review will see exhibits analysed using the latest fingerprint recognition technology and Low Copy Number DNA forensic techniques. The team's work is being funded directly by the additional £245 million secured by the PSNI from the Treasury and Stormont Executive to tackle the dissident threat.

High-ranking security sources revealed the additional investigative tactic against the wider dissident movement as two men arrested on suspicion of Pc Kerr's murder continued to be questioned.

The review will examine specific crimes detectives believe may have involved present-day dissidents. While the specialist detectives will probe crimes dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, the principal focus will be on a series of incidents around the turn of the 21st century.

None of the renegade groups has yet claimed responsibility for the murder of Pc Kerr, but officers have indicated that increasing links and co-operation between disparate organisations means a specific claim is not as relevant to their investigation as it might once have been.

They believe there are nearly as many as 30 distinct groupings operating across Northern Ireland, some claiming to be the Real IRA, some Continuity IRA, some from Oglaigh na hEireann, with other groups claiming no affiliation at all.

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