Belfast Telegraph

Under-car bomb in west Belfast 'was intended for soldier'

By Brian Rowan

A soldier is understood to have been the target of a dissident republican under-car bomb discovered after it fell from a vehicle in west Belfast.

The Belfast Telegraph understands police investigating the bomb plot believe it may not have been aimed at a PSNI officer as first thought.

In a new twist over the discovery of the device at Ballymagarry Lane, detectives believe dissidents may instead have been targeting a military figure.

This is the new and current focus of the investigation, rather than a definitive outcome.

It is being stressed that several lines of inquiry are still being examined.

A week ago there was a very different police line — a firm belief that the target was one of their officers.

This was being described both as the “most informed theory” and the “most likely scenario”.

“At the end of last week it looked for everything that it was a cop,” a source said.

It is understood that, as the investigation progressed, a small number of officers had been identified as possible targets.

But, now, the focus has shifted.

“Things have changed,” a source said.

The source pointed to the possibility of a military target, and another attempt by dissidents to kill a soldier.

There is no further information to explain the latest police thinking.

And, a week after the discovery of the device, there is still no statement from any of the dissident factions admitting a planned attack.

There have been other attempts to kill soldiers in bomb plots.

The group Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) targeted off-duty soldiers visiting Belfast at the turn of this year. A device was placed inside one of their vehicles, but was discovered.

And the same group was behind a plan to kill an Army Major in Bangor in August 2010.

In this incident — like last week — the device fell from the vehicle.

The discovery of that under-car bomb on the road in west Belfast a week ago came just days after the murder of prison officer David Black, admitted by a new dissident ‘IRA’ coalition.

That shooting, against the backdrop of a continuing republican protest inside Maghaberry Prison, highlighted the threat to jail staff and the capacity of dissident groups to carry out occasional murderous attacks.

Then came the discovery of the bomb, further confirmation that the threat level remains at ‘severe’.

An MoD spokesman declined to comment on the investigation.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph