Northern Ireland

Dissident Arm na Poblachta claim two PSNI vehicles targeted in Co Derry

Security alert continues around Dungiven

Police and army ATO at the scene of an alert in the Legavallon Road and Curragh Road area of Dungiven. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN
Dungiven security alerts Police and the British army bomb squad at a security alert outside Dungiven at the weekend. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN

Two security alerts in Co Derry were sparked after dissident group Arm na Poblachta (ANP) claimed to have targeted PSNI vehicles.

In a warning issued on Saturday, the paramilitary group, using a recognised codeword, claimed that devices were left at two locations near Dungiven.

It is claimed an attempt was made to fire both devices on Friday night.

Police confirmed that a “viable pipe bomb type device” had been found at Curragh Road on Sunday.

It was made safe and taken away for further examination.

A second security alert at Foreglen Road, outside Dungiven, ended on Monday evening with “nothing else untoward” found, and a PSNI spokesperson urged members of the public to continue to be vigilant.

Four men, aged 22, 35, and two aged 55, were arrested on Monday after a number of searches at properties in the Omagh and Derry areas.

Last week marked the anniversary of the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell in Omagh.

DCI Caldwell was seriously injured after being shot in front of his son after he finished coaching youth football at Omagh Leisure Complex.

The weekend alerts are the latest in a series of security-linked incidents in the Dungiven area in recent years.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Sean McGlinchey said of the most recent: “there is no reason and there is no logic for it”.

The councillor said inconvenience had been caused to local people accessing their homes and to farmers, who are unable to feed their animals.

“We are way beyond this, we have to work together,” he said.

“There are more important issues going on at the minute for people with the cost of living.”

Mr McGlinchey urged militant republicans to “come in from the cold”.

A man has appeared in court charged with the attempted murder of Detective Chief Superintendent John Caldwell
Detective Chief Superintendent John Caldwell was shot in February 2023 (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There’s always something on offer, they have to come in and work the system,” he said.

“There are independent councillors that do sterling work in different councils - if they have something to offer come in and do it.”

Mr McGlinchey said local people were angry that Dungiven is once again the focus of negative media attention.

“They must think it’s the wild west, it is causing a lot of anger,” he said.

“There is a thriving cross community work to help people and this brings it to a different level, who would want to come and even buy a house in Dungiven?”

Police cordons remain in place in the junction of Forglen Road and Ballyhanedin Road due to a security alert in the area. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN
Dungiven security alerts (Forglen) Roads remain closed around Dungiven, Co Derry, as security alert contineus. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN

ANP is understood to include former members of other paramilitary organisations including the Continuity IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann.

It emerged in 2017 and has pockets of support in, Tyrone, Armagh, Belfast, and Co Derry, where it has been particularly active in recent times.

In March last year the PSNI wrote to serving officers and staff members after ANP threatened their families, claiming they were now being treated as “legitimate targets”.

The threat came as the group also claimed a device left under an off-duty PSNI officer’s car in north Derry had fallen off.

The previous month the group was linked to a failed hijacking in Derry city.

A suspicious device, which police described as viable, was later discovered in the Corrody Road area of the city, near the grounds of Doire Trasna GAA club.

In November 2022 ANP claimed responsibility for a bomb alert in Derry after a delivery driver was hijacked in the Waterside area and was forced to drive a bomb to a PSNI station.

ANP is believed to have been responsible for a viable device left in the Ballyquinn Road area of Dungiven area last November.

Police had earlier received a warning that two devices had been left in the area.

The recovered device was later removed for examination.

Homes were evacuated and an industrial estate sealed off in the same area last August after an alert was raised but nothing was found.

Later that month an object was removed from the Carnanbane Road area of Dungiven by police after a security alert.

Police helicopter hovers over as cordons remain in place in the junction of Forglen Road and Ballyhanedin Road due to a security alert in the area. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN
Dungiven security alerts A PSNI helicopter in the Dungiven area at the weekend. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN

Around the same time the names and addresses of three people it was claimed were PSNI officers appeared on a poster in Dungiven town.

It later emerged that the claim against one person was incorrect, while another had resigned from the force six months earlier.

It is understood that a security alert in the Feeny Road area last February was sparked after a republican group claimed that a device had been left in the area.

Last month a group of armed and masked men claiming to be from the ‘IRA’ visited several bars in the town and threated drug dealers.

Two men have been charged.