In Brief

Irish dissident theory probed over London letter bombs

Explosive devices sent to Waterloo and two airports bore Irish postmarks

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Anti-terror police are investigating an Irish dissident lead after improvised explosive devices were sent to three major London transport hubs.

Devices were delivered to Waterloo rail station and administration buildings at Heathrow and London City airports yesterday.

Although security sources insist it is too early to speculate over who was responsible, the crude incendiary devices, which were sent in jiffy bags, all bore Irish postmarks and appeared to have been sent from Dublin.

According to an Irish security source “violent dissident republicans” were the most likely culprits and parcel bombs are seen as “‘cheap’ ways of causing terror across the Irish Sea”, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Three groups are under suspicion, The Times says. These include the New IRA, which is thought to have carried out a bombing in Londonderry last month, and the Continuity IRA, which has been reported to have issued threats against Britain recently.

Another group linked to violence in Northern Ireland, Arm Na Poblachta, could be in the frame, but the dissident paramilitary group Oglaigh na hEireann, responsible for bombing MI5’s headquarters in Co Down in 2015, declared a ceasefire last month. 

However, Sky News’ Ireland correspondent Stephen Murphy said: “The news of this Irish connection has been greeted with widespread surprise here. 

“Security sources here are saying that if any Irish dissident group tried to send explosive devices by mail to the United Kingdom, the odds are they would be of a more sophisticated and more harmful design.”

A Dublin source told the Irish Times that devices may have been sent by domestic or international terrorists or by a lone wolf attacker for an, as yet, unknown reason.

A spokesman for Ireland's Garda police confirmed they were assisting the Metropolitan Police with the investigation.

The Met said the devices inside the packages were “small improvised explosive devices” and described them as “not sophisticated”.

“These devices, at this early stage of the investigation, appear capable of igniting an initially small fire when opened,” they added.

The Daily Telegraph said “tensions have been mounting on both sides of the border” in recent months amid the “deadlock” over Brexit.

There was no disruption to services at any of the three locations. Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan, of British Transport Police, said that commuters should feel “safe and reassured”.

No arrests have been made and police are advising transport hubs across London to be vigilant and for the public to report anything suspicious.

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