Dissidents 'target Tory conference'
Irish republican dissidents behind a string of bomb attacks in Northern Ireland are targeting the Conservative Party conference this autumn, an MP has warned.
Ex-soldier Patrick Mercer said former colleagues had told him several groups wanted to "catapult themselves into the headlines" by attacking targets on the mainland.
The warning comes amid a recent upsurge of violence and bomb incidents in recent weeks, including outside police stations and against security force personnel.
Mr Mercer, former chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counter-terrorism, told the BBC: "Over the last three or four weeks there have been several very determined efforts to kill in Northern Ireland.
"There are three groups in Northern Ireland which are planning to do something to catapult themselves into the headlines before the party conference season.
"They wish to kill by the end of the month.
"They have an aspiration to attack targets on the mainland, including the Conservative Party conference."
The MP, who served in Northern Ireland, said the intelligence came from people he used to serve with.
Asked how likely an attack was at the conference in Birmingham in October, Mr Mercer added: "I don't believe these groups are capable of carrying out attacks on the mainland at the moment, but they would like to."
Earlier this month a police station guard escaped unharmed after a car bomb partially exploded as he drove to work through a busy residential area.