'IRA' claim bomb was to kill British soldier visiting Belfast
THE ‘IRA’ has said it was responsible for planting a bomb under a serving British soldier’s van in north Belfast earlier this week.
In a statement to The Irish News the group said it had made several attempts to kill the soldier - who it claimed was based in Palace Barracks in Co Down.
It said the man was involved in a relationship with a woman who lives in the area.
The bomb was discovered on the roadside at Linden Gardens, which is off the Cliftonville Road, at around 12.30pm on Thursday.
The ‘IRA’ said it fell off the soldier’s VW Transporter which had earlier been parked in the street.
In its statement, which was accompanied by a codeword, the group said the device used new "directional" technology which is intended to send a blast in a specific direction.
The paramilitary group said the device included Semtex and was to be triggered by a mercury tilt switch.
They said it also had a timer attached which meant it could not be set off for 60 minutes after it was placed.
The group revealed that the deadly device was attached to the soldier’s vehicle on three different occasions using magnets but fell off on each, sparking speculation that the security forces have developed technology to counter the attachment of under-car bombs.
The group said that that on the third attempt a metal plate was attached to the bottom of the van using adhesive and a jack to help hold it in place.
Several hours later when the adhesive had hardened members returned to the area, removed the jack and attached the device using magnets.
Despite this, the device fell off for a third time.
They ‘IRA’ also claimed that on two separate occasions armed members previously waited in the Linden Gardens area in a bid to shoot the soldier but he failed to appear.
They say that when it was later established that the soldier did not keep a regular routine an "active service unit" remained on "stand by" for "ten consecutive nights" but he again failed to show up.
It was then, according the group, they decided to use a bomb to target the soldier.
The ‘IRA’ statement said: "They would not have seen anything like this before. This is new technology. The components are similar but the make up of the unit is different and the end result would be significantly different, ie more directional.
"We only have to be lucky once in relation to all this."
Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA, Gerry Kelly said a child had kicked the device and could have been killed.
"Not only could this have been a fatality we're dealing with today of whoever the target happened to be," he said.
"But I understand a young boy kicked it on the way up the street - we could have been dealing with a child being killed here.
"I condemn it absolutely. Not only is there no support, but there is absolute opposition to whoever is doing this."
SDLP justice spokesman and North Belfast assembly member Alban Maginness condemned the attempted attack.
"It is hardly a surprise that this so-called republican group, namely the IRA, have claimed this particular device and the attempted murder of a soldier.
"Have they learned nothing from history, that this type of attack will achieve nothing and that violence is simply a futile exercise which ends up in injury for an individual and misery for everyone else.
"It would be my plea to them to end this sort of activity before someone dies or is seriously injured."
Det Ch Insp Richard Campbell said: "Those responsible have no qualms about putting people's lives at risk and causing disruption to the community.
"There is no doubt that this device had the potential to cause serious injury or death."
Nigel Dodds, the MP for North Belfast, described the bomb attempt as "outrageous" and said it could have caused "multiple casualties".
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said there was "no possible justification to imperil life in this way".
"Those responsible are reckless and criminal and they will be condemned by everyone who wants a positive future for Northern Ireland," she added.