BELFAST (Reuters) – Police in British-controlled Northern Ireland said on Tuesday they suspect that dissident Irish republican militants planted a trap bomb found in the car of a part-time police officer.
The Northern Irish Police Service (PSNI) said the bomb was found on Monday in a car outside the female officer’s family home in Dungiven, a town near the northwestern city of Londonderry. The bomb was defused overnight.
“What’s really sad here is that the terrorists placed the bomb in the back of the car, right where the victim’s three-year-old daughter was sitting,” PSNI Assistant Police Chief Mark McEwan told reporters.
“While investigations are at an early stage and detectives remain open-minded, a strong line of investigation is that this attack was the work of the New IRA,” said McEwan.
The New IRA is one of a handful of active militant groups opposing the 1998 peace deal in Northern Ireland. They have been behind several sporadic attacks that have continued, including the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in 2019.
About 3,600 people died in a conflict that began in the late 1960s between mostly Protestant union members, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of Britain, and mostly Catholic nationalists, who wanted to be part of a unified Irish republic.
In recent weeks, police have also found themselves attacked in street protests by young pro-British loyalists angry at restrictions on trade with the rest of Great Britain imposed this year after Britain left the European Union.
Loyalists have also accused the police of being biased against their community, an accusation that police have repeatedly seen as baseless.
Brandon Lewis, the British cabinet minister in charge of Northern Ireland, tweeted: “This attempted assassination of a police officer is absolutely disgusting. I truly condemn the actions of those involved. “
Reporting by Conor Humphries; Edited by Kevin Liffey, Peter Graff and Alex Richardson