Belfast Telegraph

Dissidents 'may have grenade cache'

Dissident republicans in Northern Ireland may have secured a cache of military grenades, it is feared.

Police have confirmed a military grenade was used in a recent bombing that injured three policemen, as they investigated a robbery at a west Belfast bookmakers.

The device was hurled by a man on a bicycle on the busy Shaw's Road after 9pm on Friday, and confirmation of the type of weapon used in the blast has sparked stark warnings from politicians.

Members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, which monitors the police service, said it was possible dissidents had secured a batch of grenades.

A senior police officer, meanwhile, said the grenade used in the attack had a fatal "kill radius" of five to 10 metres.

Democratic Unionist representative on the Policing Board, Jimmy Spratt, said: "This is a very, very worrying development. If you look at the history of the Troubles, in the past grenades were a thing that were not commonly used. I would have serious concerns about the source of this stuff."

He asked whether dissidents had access to a cache of grenades smuggled into Northern Ireland without security force knowledge.

The dissident Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) group claimed responsibility for the bombing, which left one officer with a serious arm injury and two colleagues with less serious shrapnel injuries. The group reportedly claimed a "Russian-style" grenade was used in the attack.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Matt Baggott said his officers, or members of the public, could easily have died in the bombing.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist policing board member Basil McCrea said he believed dissidents had become better armed and had improved their bomb-making capabilities by securing commercial detonators to ensure larger devices would explode.

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