Belfast Telegraph

Half of the 211 terror attacks in EU last year occurred here

By Hayden Smith

Up to half of all terror attacks planned, thwarted or carried out in six major European states last year happened in Northern Ireland, a new report suggests.

There were 211 "failed, foiled or completed" terrorist strikes reported by the six EU members - with the highest number logged by the UK, according to Europol.

Some 151 people died and more than 360 were injured as a result of terrorism - with the vast majority of fatalities in France, which was hit by the Charlie Hebdo and Paris atrocities in 2015.

The figures are "markedly higher" than in 2014 when four people were killed and six wounded, Europol said. The EU law enforcement agency's latest Terrorism Situation And Trend Report said the total number of terrorist incidents across the EU in 2015 slightly increased compared with 2014, when there were 201.

Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK reported failed, foiled and completed attacks.

The report said the UK reported the highest number - 103. Of these, the UK reported 16 attacks on national security targets.

While the types of terror groups are not specified, it is thought these were mostly linked to Northern Ireland.

As well as firearms, Europol said dissident republican groups in Northern Ireland deployed a wide variety of bombs in 2015 including letter bombs, under-car booby-traps, command wire devices, radio controlled explosive devices, grenades and incendiaries

"The main explosive charge of those improvised explosive devices mainly consisted of low-explosives (pyrotechnics mixture and gunpowder), although in some cases a high-grade plastic explosive was used. All groups still retain access to a range of firearms and explosive materials," it stated.

The report found that dissident republican activity levels are broadly in line with previous years.

"All dissident republican (DR) groups retain the intent and capability to conduct further attacks. The level of threat remains severe.

"Police in Northern Ireland remain the principal target for DR groups. Members of the armed forces and prison officers have also been targeted.

"There were no injuries or fatalities caused by DR attacks in 2015, although in some cases these were very narrowly avoided.

"Northern Ireland remains the focus of operations for DR groups. However, they continue to utilise the Republic of Ireland for fundraising, training, engineering, procurement, storage and, occasionally, as a preparatory base for attacks in Northern Ireland."

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