Police fear dissident terror groups are determined to kill again — ignoring the backlash of condemnation that has followed the murder of Catholic police constable Ronan Kerr.
Almost a week after the booby trap bomb attack none of the armed factions has yet admitted responsibility.
But police are not reading anything significant into that |silence.
“These guys are just as, if not more, determined to take more life,” a source told the Belfast Telegraph.
And he said that among the dissidents there was “no state of |regret”.
Asked which group may have been behind the attack, the source responded: “Who exactly, or what unit, I'm not sure.”
But he said the composition of the bomb was not new.
Both the Real IRA and the faction Oglaigh na hEireann have been developing their bomb-making expertise, and the two groups have been behind a series of similar under-car |attacks.
There has also been an intelligence focus on a disaffected group of former mainstream IRA figures in east Tyrone, but there is no information at this stage to suggest a link to the weekend bombing.
Speaking to this newspaper earlier this week, a source revealed that MI5 was monitoring the group, trying to assess its intentions and whether it planned to merge with one of the dissident factions. That assessment is not yet complete.
Police and MI5 will also want to establish the origin of the arms found near Coalisland on Tuesday — a significant arsenal of rifles, ammunition and explosives, including the possibility of Semtex.
There are three possibilities:
- That they were taken by dissidents prior to their split from the mainstream IRA in 1997;
- That they were held back from the decommissioning process in 2005;
- Or, that dissidents have found a new arms supply line.
- A republican source, speaking to this newspaper, speculated that the weapons would turn out to be “ex-Provo”, meaning originally part of the mainstream IRA arsenal.
- In February 1999, the IRA leadership disclosed “that a small amount of its weaponry” had “been stolen” by dissidents.
- The weapons were stolen prior to the dissidents defecting.