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'New IRA' claims east Belfast bomb attack on prison officer

Published 07/03/2016

A bomb disposal unit officer at the scene following a suspected car bomb attack on a prison officer at Hillsborough Drive on March 4, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
A bomb disposal unit officer at the scene following a suspected car bomb attack on a prison officer at Hillsborough Drive on March 4, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
A bomb disposal unit officer inspects the damaged van following a suspected car bomb attack on a prison officer at Hillsborough Drive on March 4, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The scene at the top of Hillsborough Drive off the Woodstock Road in east Belfast where a device exploded under a van resulting in one man being hospitalised. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast.
Picture credit © Matt Mackey - Presseye.com Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th March 2016 The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast.
The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
A man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast.
The van at the scene of the car bomb in East Belfast
The scene where a man, believed to be a prison officer, has been taken to hospital after a device exploded under a van in east Belfast. It happened around the Woodstock Road at about 07:10 GMT on Friday.
Police seal off a large area after a device exploded under a car in east Belfast, leaving a man injured.
Police seal off a large area after a device exploded under a car in east Belfast, leaving a man injured. Pic Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA Wire

A group calling itself the New IRA has claimed responsibility for a Semtex bomb attack that injured a prison officer in Belfast.

The 52-year-old, a married father of three, required surgery after an explosive device detonated under the van he was driving on Friday morning.

Four people including a woman have since been arrested.

In a statement to the BBC the dissident republican group reportedly said the officer was targeted because he was involved in training other guards at HMP Maghaberry, near Lisburn.

A spokesman said the officer was one of a number on a list of potential targets and the attack arose from a dispute over the treatment of dissident Republican inmates.

The group claimed to have used the plastic explosive Semtex and a commercial detonator in the attack.

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Following the blast, police commanders expressed fears that it could be the first of a number of dissident republican attacks to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

In separate incidents on Saturday, officers found two viable explosive devices in residential streets in west Belfast.

The blast happened in the Hillsborough Drive area off Woodstock Road, a predominantly loyalist area in the east of the city, just after 7am on Friday.

The victim, a long-serving officer based at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre in south Belfast who works as a trainer for new recruits to the NI Prison Service, had just left home to drive to work. His condition has been described as stable.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said on Sunday: "Detectives investigating the attempted murder of a prison officer in Belfast on Friday 4 March have arrested four people: three men aged 34, 41 and 45 and a female aged 34.

"They were detained in the Belfast area this evening. They are currently being questioned at a police station in Belfast."

In an unrelated incident, a viable device was recovered during a security alert in the Gelvin Gardens area of Londonderry last night.

A number of residents were moved from their homes while police examined the discovery, which was found at around 5pm.

Detective Sergeant Brian Reid said: "The device was made safe and has been seized for forensic examination."

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From Belfast Telegraph