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'New IRA' claims it shot police officer in Belfast

A group calling itself the new IRA has claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on a Northern Ireland police officer, according to reports.

The community officer, aged in his 20s, was hit three times in the arm with bullets from a high velocity rifle which sprayed a busy petrol station in North Belfast on Sunday night.

Commanders believe his body armour may have saved him from further harm.

The republican group said the attack was a "targeted" attempt to kill two officers, reported the Irish News.

The newspaper said that the group had claimed the attack using a recognised codeword, saying that it was unconnected to the recent collapse of political institutions at Stormont but was rather a "continuation of activity".

Detectives believe rounds may have been fired from behind a fence across the road from the garage forecourt on the Crumlin Road as two officers emerged from the shop.

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process have been blamed by police for the attack, although no particular group has been named.

The new IRA claimed responsibility for the murder of a prison officer last year.

It is an amalgamation of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and a loose collection of dissident republicans.

The different groupings came together in 2012 under the banner of "the IRA".

It was linked in November that year to the murder of prison officer David Black.

A 30-year-old man arrested in connection with the shooting was released unconditionally on Wednesday night. Two other detained men - aged 36 and 39 - were released on Tuesday.

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